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6 policemen killed in daring NPA ambush

By FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD ● GENALYN D. KABILING

The police chief of Guihulngan City and five of his men were killed in an ambush staged by suspected New People’s Army rebels in Negros Oriental yesterday morning.

Three other policemen were also wounded in the ambush, the latest in a series of NPA attacks across the country.

The policemen, aboard a Mahindra van and three motorcycles, were on their way to the scene of an earlier ambush of municipal councilor Edison dela Rita and his driver when they were waylaid in Barangay Magsaysay at 9:50 a.m.

Dela Rita and his driver were travelling to Barangay Poblacion from Barangay Balogo when they were attacked at 9 a.m.

The councilor was wounded, but his unnamed driver was killed, according to the police report received by the Philippine National Police-National Operations Center (PNP-NOC).

The slain police chief was identified as Superintendent Arnel Arpon. The other fatalities were SPO2 Mecasio Tabilon, SPO1 Jesael Ancheta, PO2 Alvin Paul Bulandres, PO2 Alfredo Dunque and SPO2 Chavic Agosto.

Wounded were SPO4 Jerome Delara, PO2 Jorie Maribao and PO3 Jordan Balderas. They were rushed to a hospital in Dumaguete City.

The attack came a day after President Duterte halted the peace negotiations with the communist rebels and instead called for need to “reorient” government operations to curb the “strong resurgence” of the insurgents.

“Ayaw ko nang makipag-usap sa kanila. Marami na akong sundalo na pinatay nila, marami na akong pulis na pinatay nila,” Duterte said before an assembly of soldiers in Marawi City last Thursday.

“Huwag kayong magkumpyansa dyan kasi there is a strong resurgence. Nabubuhay na naman ang mga NPA. Pagkatapos nito, leche itong putukan na ‘to, pagkatapos nito maubos ang mga ulol dyan, mag-reorient tayo, NPA na naman kasi marami sila utang sa atin,” he told the troops battling remnants of the Islamic State-linked militant group in Marawi City.

The President recently ordered government negotiators not to resume the formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) if the rebels would not stop attacking government forces.

The informal talks have also been suspended in light of the recent NPA attack that injured four the Presidential Security Group members in North Cotabato. The talks were supposed to address issues such as joint interim ceasefire and rebel extortion.

In his remarks in Marawi, the President has expressed frustration at the insincerity of the communist rebels to the peace process amid their continued treacherous attacks on troops.

The fifth round of formal peace talks bogged down last May over the rebel order to intensify attacks in response to the President’s martial law declaration in Mindanao.

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