THE importance of having a quality bullet-proof vest once again was showcased in the case of a Philippine National Police Special Action Force commando who luckily cheated death during a counter-terror operation in Polomolok, South Cotabato, last Friday morning which left six suspected members of a terror ring dead.
During the clash, a bullet from an M-16 automatic rifle hit the upper right chest area of Corporal Ronald Kevin Corros of the SAF’s 43rd Special Action Company, said PNP-SAF director, Major General Bernabe M. Balba.
“Fortunately, the bullet proof ballistic plate saved the life of Cpl. Corros as the bullet failed to penetrate the vest,” Balba told the Journal Group.
PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas commended the operating troops from the PNP-SAF’s 4th Special Action Battalion led by Major Paul Vincent Camarce for neutralizing the six armed suspects believed to be members of the Dawlah Islamiyah Maguid Group.
Sinas said appropriate medals and commendations will be given to the SAF commandos led by Maj. Camarce and his men including Cpl. Corros and Cpl. Bryan Cabreros and Patrolman Ronald Lepalam who were both wounded in the 40-minute gunbattle.
“Vincent, please extend my congratulations to our troopers for a job well done and the courage and gallantry they have shown in neutralizing the terror group in defense of our democracy and freedom,” said Balba, a member of Philippine Military Academy’ Maringal’ Class of 1988.
“As SAF troopers, let us remain humble in our accomplishments but maintain our skills and our values, living up to our motto By Skills and Virtue, We Triumph,” Balba told Maj. Camarce and his men.
Last Friday’s encounter came as Sinas ordered a sustained campaign against terrorism in the country as well as illegal drugs, corruption, illegal gambling and other criminal acts.
“We will continue the effective programs and approaches to these problems that already brought positive outcomes and feedback from our communities,” the 25th PNP chief said.
The slain suspects were led by Arafat Bulacon alias ‘Maula,’ a known sub-leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah Maguid Group formerly known as the Ansar Khilafa Philippines who is the subject of two warrants of arrest for murder issued by two Mindanao courts.
Sinas said the SAF commandos led by Camarce raided the suspects’ hideout in Purok 6-A, Barangay Koronadal Proper, Polomolok at 5:30 a.m.
However, the occupants of the suspected terrorist safehouse sensed the approaching troops and engaged them in a firefight.
A 40-minute gunbattle erupted between the two groups, killing Bulacon and five of his still unidentified cohorts and wounding two SAF troopers.
Initially recovered at the scene were a caliber 5.56 Bushmaster rifle with one long steel magazine. PNP Crime Laboratory personnel are still searching for more pieces of evidence at the scene of the clash, he said. Troops are also still tracking down other members of the group who are still at large as of press time.
The wounded policemen were brought to the Polomolok Municipal Hospital for initial treatment before Cpl. Cabreros was transferred to the Mindanao Medical Center in General Santos City for further medical care.
Sinas said the PNP-SAF was joined in the raid by operatives from the Police Regional Office 12 Regional Mobile Force Battalion and the South Cotabato Provincial Mobile Force Company, all under PRO12 director, Brig. Gen. Michael John F. Dubria; the 17th Air Force Intelligence Battalion; the 12th National Intelligence Service Unit and the Naval Intelligence Service Group and the Army’s 5th Special Forces.
Sinas added that Bulacon is the subject of a warrant of arrest for murder issued by Jude Lorenzo Balo of the Isulan, Sultan Kudarat Regional Trial Court Branch 19 and another warrant for murder issued by Judge Adelbert Santillan of the Polomolok RTC Branch 63.
The PNP chief said Bulacon, along with Dawlah Islamiyah leaders Salahuddin Hassan and Abu Toraype are all associated with the late wanted terror leader Geoffrey Nilong alias ‘Abu Omar/Moimoi’ who was killed in a firefight with PNP Intelligence Group agents under Brig. Gen. Edgar S. Monsalve and the PRO12 inside the Migyz Inn in Purok Hiligaynon, Bgy. Saliao in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat last Wednesday.
Monsalve said the suspect is known as the leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah Nilong Group wanted for its involvement in a 2018 General Santos City bombing, the assassination of a local policeman identified as Captain Herman Gabat and the ambush on several Polomolok policemen.
Recovered from the slain suspect were a cal. .45 pistol, two 60mm mortar warheads, a rifle grenade with bull trap, an electric blasting cap and an improvised explosive device placed inside an empty M-230 shell.