By Ben Rosario and Marie Tonette Marticio
TACLOBAN City – The Police Regional Office 8 of the Philippine National Police (PNP) strongly condemns the “treacherous attack” of suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) that killed a police officer and a female civilian and hurt 13 individuals, including two children, on Friday afternoon (Dec. 13).
Initial reports reaching the regional headquarters disclosed that seven personnel from the 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company based in Barangay Lunang, Dolores, Eastern Samar were waylaid by an unidentified number of armed rebels at around 2:53 P.M. in Brgy. Libuton, Borongan City, Eastern Samar.
“This attack is so unfortunate, considering that Christmas is fast approaching, and more so that we have casualties among our troops and the civilians. The whole PNP is condemning such atrocious acts,” Eastern Visayas Police Director Police Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Divina said.
Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone said suspected New People’s Army terrorists were believed to be behind the ambush that also resulted in the wounding of nine civilians.
When attacked, the police vehicle was travelling to the provincial headquarters in Borongan City flanked by at least three more civilian vehicles, including an ambulance rushing a patient towards Eastern Visayas Regional Hospital.
Evardone said an improvised explosive device (IED) was thrown at the ambush site, hitting the occupants of all four vehicles that were then negotiating a road curve.
Reported killed were Patrolman Mark Jerome Rama, the driver of the police car, and Agripena Traboco, a civilian.
Wounded from the government’s forces were Pat. Ric Capoquian Jr., Pat. Kevin Operario, Pat. Angelo Luterte, and Pat. Rey Sobrepeña.
Nine civilians, including a one-year-old baby and a six-year-old child, who were riding two tricycles and an L300 van, were also wounded during the attack.
“After the explosion, the terrorists opened fire at nearly everyone on sight. They even shot the ambulance driver who tried to flee the scene,” Evardone said.
“This only shows that these NPAs spare no one just to pursue their terroristic deeds against government forces,” Divina added.
Just last month, six soldiers were killed and 20 others injured in an encounter with alleged NPA members in Sitio Bangon, Barangay Pinanag-an, also in Borongan City.
“Let’s all condemn this attack during this Christmas season,” the Eastern Samar governor wrote in a Facebook post.
“What’s even more lamentable is the fact that the police personnel who were attacked were on their way to Borongan to help prepare for the relief distribution activity for victims of the recent typhoon,” he added.
Evardone said there were a number of Christmas events on Friday, including the provincial government’s party, that were either cancelled or observed without the usual Yuletide games and celebration.
A “big bike” tour event in the province scheduled for Dec. 14 was also cancelled by organizers.