By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY—Nine policemen in Maasin town, Iloilo province, were disarmed and handcuffed after communist rebels belonging to the New People’s Army (NPA) conducted a surprise attack Sunday.
Mayor Mar Malones Sr. confirmed to Manila Bulletin that men wearing masks stormed the Philippine National Police (PNP) station of Maasin town around 10:30 a.m. of June 18.
Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag, director of Police Regional Office (PRO-6), disclosed that no one was hurt when around 40 NPA rebels attacked the police station.
Binag told Manila Bulletin the NPA rebels carted away eight M-16 rifles, four Glock pistols, five handheld radio units, two laptop computers, and P29,000 in cash.
The NPA rebels also seized Maasin PNP’s patrol car, but the vehicle was later recovered in neighboring Alimodian town.
Social media posts from local residents showed photos of NPA rebels carrying seized firearms while roaming Maasin’s town’s center.
Some NPA rebels also handed out leaflets to local residents before leaving the town, declaring that only the police station was targeted.
The attack came a day after 525 soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 82nd Infantry Battalion (82 IB), based in Iloilo province, were deployed to Marawi City to augment government forces against the Maute terrorist group.
Late last month, Maasin was one of the police stations sternly warned by the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) of a possible NPA attack.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the NPA in Panay Island lauded the attack by the unit of NPA’s Napoleon Tumagtang Command.
According to the statement of NPA’s Coronacion “Waling-Waling” Chiva Command, the attack against Maasin PNP was done because cops in the area were allegedly extorting from small vendors.
The NPA also claimed that Maasin PNP was lax in the campaign against illegal drugs and illegal gambling.
Meanwhile, Binag sacked all cops of Maasin PNP and temporarily replaced the police station with members of PRO-6’s Regional Public Safety Company.
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