DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — (UPDATE – 11:12 a.m., July 22, 2017) The chief of police of Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental and five of his men were killed, while three others were wounded, in an ambush believed staged by the New People’s Army Friday morning.
Superintendent Arnel Arpon was leading a team of 15 policemen responding to a call for help from Guihulngan Councilor Edison Dela Rita, who said he had been attacked in Barangay Magsaysay.
Dela Rita suffered a minor head injury but his driver was killed in the attack, also believed carried out by rebels.
At a curve in the road in Sitio Masid-e, Barangay Magsaysay, the police patrol vehicle came under fire. Aside from Arpon, killed were Police Officer 2 Alfredo Dunque, PO2 Alvin Bolandres, PO3 Teovic Agusto, Senior Police Officer 2 Nicasio Tabilon and SPO1 Jesael Ancheta.
Superintendent Carlos Lacuesta, deputy provincial police director for operations, identified the wounded as PO3 Jordan Balderas, SPO4 Jerome Delara and SPO2 Jury Maribao.
Although outnumbered, the remaining five uninjured policemen engaged the rebels, who had at least two M60 machineguns, as they called for reinforcements.
Lacuesta acknowledged it was hours before the casualties could all be extricated because of sniper fie from the rebels. Some of the injured were evacuated by “habal-habal,” or motorcycles-for-hire, even as the fighting continued, he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Roderick Garcia, commander of the Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion, said their troops mounted hot pursuit operations against the rebels he believed were a combined force from the Central Negros Front and the Regional Strike Force.
The night before the Guihulngan ambush, Calatrava town, Negros Occidental, troops of the 62nd Infantry Battalion also clashed with rebels, the unit’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Darrell Bañez told local radio.