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NPA admits ambush of 4 Davao lawmen

DAVAO CITY – Chances of attaining peace with the rebels have now become few and far between.

This after the New People’s Army claimed responsibility in the ambush and death of four policemen Wednesday last week in Barangay Sibayan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur.

In a statement, the NPA even justified their reason in attacking the policemen, one of them a member of the Scene of the Crime Operatives, whom officials of the Philippine National Police claim were unarmed during the attack.

“The PNP hierarchy peddled the dubious line and outrageously melodramatic declaration that the PNP unit was a ‘non-tactical police team’,” said NPA Southern Mindanao spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez. “It is a vain attempt to cover-up the fact that an armed PNP unit on offensive operation was effectively neutralized by a 14-man NPA unit.”

Sanchez said they learned of a plan by authorities to conduct an operation against them, forcing their armed men to conduct their own tactical attack on one of two PNP vehicles passing through their area.

“The first police vehicle passed by the NPA ambush position site at 6:35 a.m. The NPA squad desisted from striking when it saw civilians riding in motorcycles were in close proximity to the moving PNP vehicle,” stated Sanchez.

“At 7:10 a.m., the NPA squad, positioned eight meters from the road, proceeded to ambush the passing mobile vehicle.

After the initial five-second volley of gunshots, the NPA commander called for the enemy troops to surrender and lay down their arms,” added Sanchez.

Sanchez then reiterated that the four policemen fought back but was eventually neutralized by the rebel fighters.

He said the four cops were met by 14 NPA rebels from the Mount Apo Sub-regional Operations Command, with the encounter lasting around 15 minutes.

Killed in the ambush were PO1 Rolly Benelayo, PO1 Joe O. Narvaza, PO1 Saro S. Mangotara, all from the Bansalan Municipal Police Staion, and PO3 Jayden May Rabor, a member of Scene of Crime Operatives while wounded was PO3 Allen Arnado.

The police team was sent into the area after a report by barangay officials regarding the killing of a soldier indentified as Marlon Lomantas whom Sanchez revealed was also earlier killed by their group for being an intelligence agent of the 39th Infantry Batallion.

The NPA’s killing of Lomantas is termed by the rebels as “revolutionary justice,” claiming that the fallen soldier is also involved in illegal drug activities.

Sanchez said that the NPA would continue its operations in the countryside.

President Duterte on Thursday ordered the military and police forces to use all their assets against the NPA rebels.

“What I feel from the NPA’s are really, I’m sad. I’m sad because we are talking and we can never hope to come to terms kung ganoon ang – ah, kung sabihin nila na coalition government. And if it’s sila, impossible, I will never allow it. Eh, kung ganoon ang style mo. Maybe we can continue talking. Whether we want to call a ceasefire or not.

But at this time they choose to go to war. It has been with us for 50 years, so if they want to fight another 50 years okay lang sa akin,” Duterte said. (YAS D. OCAMPO • ANTONIO L. COLINA IV)