By Martin Sadongdong
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has ordered the relief of police officers in Northern Samar, including the entire personnel of Lapinig town which was attacked by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members.
“An investigation went underway into the circumstances surrounding the raid staged by at least 100 communist NPA dissident terrorists on the town hall and police station at 2:00 a.m.[Friday],” Albayalde said.
According to the PNP chief, the relief came with the strict implementation of their “one-strike” policy which indicates that they will not tolerate any wrongdoing among their ranks.
He also added that the relief, which was based on the recommendation of the national oversight committee, will ensure an impartial probe that has already been started by the PNP national headquarters.
The investigation aims to determine whether or not there has been negligence on the part of the police officials, he explained.
An initial audit revealed that at least nine high-powered firearms, cash, cellphones, and laptop computers containing intelligence information went missing after the looting of the suspects.
Insp. Noli Montebon, chief of Lapinig Municipal Police Station, was ordered relieved including his entire unit composed of around 20 personnel.
The sacked unit was already replaced by members of the reserved unit of the Northern Samar police.
Also ordered relieved were Chief Insp. Juan Byron Leogo, commander of the 2nd Northern Samar Provincial Mobile Force Company; and Senior Supt. Romeo Campomanes, provincial director of the Northern Samar Police.
Chief Supt. Mariel Magaway, regional director of the Eastern Visayas Police Regional Office (PRO-8), was also removed from his post pending the result of an investigation for command responsibility.
Magaway will be replaced by Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, chief of the Aviation and Security Group (AVSEGROUP).
Meanwhile, the PNP-AVSEGROUP will now be headed by Chief Supt. Joel Orduña, deputy director for administration of Davao Police Regional Office (PRO-11).
The attack occurred around 2 a.m. Friday when around 100 suspected NPA members raided the Lapinig Municipal Police Station.
Two cops were wounded in the attack, PO1 Edison Aguirre and PO2 Gerry Quilicol, and they were taken to the Gamay District Hospital for medical treatment.
Earlier, Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesperson, said the “alert” cops fought back and “drove away” the attackers who also tried to lay siege to the Lapinig Municipal Hall — about 400 meters away from the town’s police station.