The attack on the Magallanes town police station in Sorsogon province last Monday left one civilian dead and three policemen – Police Officers 1 Rolan Geul, Sonny Son Estera and Melvin Bartolata – injured. The civilian, who remained unidentified as of yesterday afternoon, was reportedly hit by a stray bullet.
Micahel Varcas
PNP heightens alert amid intensified NPA attacks
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - December 19, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde yesterday ordered field commanders to intensify target-hardening measures in the wake of several attacks by suspected communist rebels in the Bicol region.

The attack on the Magallanes town police station in Sorsogon province last Monday left one civilian dead and three policemen – Police Officers 1 Rolan Geul, Sonny Son Estera and Melvin Bartolata – injured. The civilian, who remained unidentified as of yesterday afternoon, was reportedly hit by a stray bullet.

Three other attacks were reported to Camp General Simeon Ola in Legazpi City – one at a detachment of the 3rd Maneuver Platoon of the Mobile Police Force, another at a Philippine Army detachment in Barangay Cristo Rey in Bato, Camarines Sur and the third at a police detachment in Barangay Panoypoyan in Bula, Camarines Sur.

At least one policeman – PO1 Francisco Santiago – was injured in the strafing of the Panoypoyan detachment.

The Army also reported an attack at its outpost in Tapaz, Capiz in Panay Island. No one was reported injured.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which earlier declared a unilateral ceasefire from Dec. 24 to 26 and from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1, 2019, will be celebrating its 50th founding anniversary next week.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a text message that President Duterte will not declare a holiday ceasefire with communists this year, adopting the recommendation by the defense department, which claimed that rebels are only using ceasefires to strengthen its forces. 

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the recommendation of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana not to suspend the offensives against the rebels still stands. 

“He (Lorenzana) is against it so most likely, since the secretary of national defense is against it, perhaps the President may be persuaded to follow the recommendation,” Panelo said in a radio interview last Dec 9. “But of course, it will depend on the President.”

The military has also opposed the suspension of offensives against the insurgents, saying the communist armed group New People’s Army (NPA) continued with its “terroristic and criminal activities” while previous ceasefires were in effect. 

Albayalde directed all regional police offices to be always vigilant and to tighten security to prevent a similar attack. “They should maintain their alertness, target hardening measures and their camp defense plans.”

Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal, Bicol regional police director, placed the entire region on full alert status on Monday following the attacks. He said at least 16 NPA rebels surrounded the station in Barangay Poblacion in Magallanes town at around 7:30 p.m., although the officers manning the station were able to repel the insurgents.

Albayalde said they have been receiving reports of the CPP plan to escalate attacks at undermanned police stations, which are considered soft targets.

He, however, downplayed the strength of communist rebels, adding they are a spent force trying to maintain its relevance. “They are really trying to show that they are still a forced to be reckoned with.”

The police chief also warned people, especially the youth, to refrain from joining the rebels, saying many young lives were destroyed after the communists tricked them into joining.

In a statement, the CPP claimed that at least 14 soldiers were killed in the two weeks that the Armed Forces of the Philippines went on an all-out offensive against the rebels in the boundaries of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur provinces.

It also claimed that the attacks terrorized mountain communities and affected the livelihood of lumad residents.

The rebels countered by carrying out guerilla attacks that allegedly led to the death of government fighters.   – With Anacito Dematera, Alexis Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano, Jaime Laude

OSCAR ALBAYALDE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
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