By Aaron Recuenco
Police forces in Western Visayas have further stepped up their security and target-hardening measures following the attack of communist rebels in Iloilo in what is believed to be in retaliation on the death of ranking New People’s Army (NPA) members in Antique.
Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, director of the Western Visayas regional police, said the roadside bombing that left five of his men wounded, including an officer with a rank equivalent to major in the military, only further their resolve to engage the local communist rebels.
“We emphasize that the government is firm in upholding law and order throughout the country. All those who sow chaos and bloodshed and other terrorist acts will have to face the consequence of their actions,” Bulalacao said..
“We will never relent in our drive to bring criminals to the bar of justice and make them accountable for their crimes,” he added.
On Friday morning, a group of policemen went to a remote area of Leon town in Iloilo over reports of rebel sightings in the area. The report turned out to be a trick to lure the cops for an ambush on their way back.
Realizing that they were in danger, Chief Insp. Abner Jordan changed their route on their way back but were attacked by communist rebels using roadside bombing tactic.
Aside from Jordan, wounded were PO2 Rosenie Lebuna, PO1 Mark Ringo Fernando, PO1 Sandie Lavilla and PO1 John Oliver Sungawho. They all sustained minor injuries caused by landmine explosion but are now declared safe by the doctors.
The ambush occurred several days after Western Visayas police force and soldiers killed seven communist rebels in Antique, most of them turned out to be ranking officers of the local communist movement.
Bulalacao earlier alerted all police commanders to brace for possible retaliatory attack by the communist rebels.
Following the attack, he called on the residents to continue cooperating with the police and military in fighting communist rebels.
“We enjoin the public to be more vigilant and report all crimes committed by this group to the PNP for their immediate arrest,” said Bulalacao.
The 4,000-strong NPA has been waging more than four decades of armed struggles against the government amid several failed attempts to strike a peace deal.