Bicol cops repel New People’s Army attacks

December 18, 2018

POLICE on Monday night repelled simultaneous attacks  by heavily-armed New People’s Army guerrillas that left three policemen and one civilian wounded.

Police Regional Office 5 director Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal said alert policemen thwarted the rebel plot to raid one of their municipal police stations and two Mobile Force Company headquarters.

Following the foiled attacks, Escobal placed the entire Bicol police force under full alert and ordered a massive counter-offensive against the guerrillas. A company of commandos from the elite Philippine National Police Special Action Force have augmented the Bicol police in pursuing the rebels.

“There is a big possibility that the NPA attacks will continue, thus I have alerted all my men on the ground to be prepared and step-up their visibility patrols and camp defense to thwart the rebel plan,” the official said.

The attacks came days after the Communist Party of the Philippines declared a unilateral ceasefire, which will take effect at 12:01 a.m. of December 24, 2018 to 11:59 p.m. of December 26, 2018; and 12:01 a.m. of December 31, 2018 to 11:59 p.m. of January 1, 2019.

The CPP will observe its 50th founding anniversary on December 26, a day in which the CPP’s armed wing, the NPA are known for mounting surprise attacks on lightly-guarded government installations and other targets.

The Duterte government, however, has yet to declare its own holiday truce. with the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces leaderships refusing to recommend a similar declaration.

According to Escobal, around 16 NPA gunmen harassed the Magallanes Municipal Police Station in Sorsogon at 7:30 p.m. Monday. He said that the rebels positioned themselves in front and at the back portion of the station and later strafed it with automatic gunfire.

Officers led by Sr. Insp. Jose Arnel Geronga returned fire and kept the guerrillas at bay for 10 minutes before the attackers retreated towards the nearby Bgy. Banacud.

Sorsogon Police Provincial Office director, Sr. Supt. Marlon Tejada said three Magallanes policemen identified as Police Officers 1 Rolan Geul, Sonny Son Estrera and Melvin Bartolata were wounded while defending their station.

He said that one civilian bystander identified “Luigi,” described as a mentally-ill local resident, was previously reported to have been killed by an NPA bullet but it turned out that he was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound in the nape.

Escobal said that the three wounded policemen were brought to the Magallanes Medical Medicare Hospital for immediate treatment and later transferred to the Sorsogon Medical Mission Group Hospital in Sorsogon City. “All three are now in stable condition,” he said.

Also attacked by the rebels were the Provincial Mobile Force Company station in Magallanes and the Regional Mobile Force Battalion headquarters based in Bula, Camarines Sur.

The Sorsogon police called on local residents to maintain their vigilance and immediately report to the Bicol police hotline 0918-6464500 or the nearest police station any information regarding the presence of suspected NPA rebels.

Suspected NPA hitmen last week added two policemen to their list of  over 140  security agents dead in New People’s Army-initiated assassinations in the countryside since 2015  amid ongoing discussions to create a specialized unit that will go after NPA assassins in the country.

Police have also uncovered plans by the NPA to take police hostages to apply pressure on the government into declaring a Yuletide ceasefire coinciding with the CPP’s 50th founding anniversary this coming December 26.  
With Zaida delos Reyes and Sonny Sales