By Martin Sadongdong
Armed individuals believed to be belonging from the New People’s Army (NPA) tried to lay siege in the Lapinig Municipal Hall in Northern Samar on Friday but were foiled by cops, the Philippine National Police (PNP) bared.
PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde has ordered ground troops to hunt down at least 100 suspected NPA members who went on a shooting and looting rampage at the Lapinig Municipal Police Station before dawn Friday.
In response, Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesperson, stated that police maneuver units in Eastern Visayas were already mobilized to conduct the manhunt.
“An ‘all point’ bulletin has been raised in the entire Samar Island to possibly intercept the fleeing group of communist terrorists who attempted to lay siege on the municipal hall of Lapinig at 2 a.m. [Friday],” Durana said.
The Lapinig Municipal Hall was about 400 meters away from the town’s police station.
He said the personnel of Lapinig Municipal Police Station foiled the suspected communist rebels’ attack and “put up a stiff resistance” to drive them away.
According to a report reaching Chief Superintendent Mariel Magaway, regional director of Eastern Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO-8), suspected communist rebels attacked the Lapinig Municipal Police Station around 2 a.m. and peppered the on-duty cops with bullets.
The suspects arrived on-board two trucks and a number of motorcycles. They were also armed with high-powered firearms such as Uzi, M14, M16, M203 grenade launcher and submachine guns, according to Magaway.
The 15- to 30-minute firefight resulted to the wounding of two cops, Police Officer 2 Jerry Quilecol and PO1 Edizon Aguere.
Meanwhile, two cops who were earlier reported missing were already found.
They were identified as Inspector Noli Montebon, the chief of police of Lapinig, and PO2 Mark Mejedo, who claimed they sought refuge after they ran out of bullets.
Montebon said the Lapinig Municipal Police Station has 21 personnel including him.
However, on the time of the attack, only six cops were on-duty in the police station and they fiercely battled the 100-member armed group until they drove them away.
However, some members of the group managed to get some of the equipment from the police station.
Accounting of the looted police equipment have been conducted to determine what items were stolen by the suspects.
“All AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) units in Samar Island had been alerted as well and have joined pursuit operations [with] land-based and seaborne PNP units,” Magaway said.
Aside from the two cops who were initailly reported wounded, Durana said no further report of casualties were available from the side of the NPA and the police since clearing and consolidation operations remain underway in Lapinig as of writing.
With the attack, additional police personnel were deployed at Lapinig Municipal Hall to ensure the safety in the area.
Reinforcement units were also sejt to beef up the security in Lapinig town in case the armed suspects return.