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3 cops killed, FDA chief unhurt in NPA ambush in Camarines Sur

Celso Amo - The Philippine Star

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines — Three police officers were killed when suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attacked a convoy of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno in Lupi, Camarines Sur yesterday.

The fatalities were identified as Senior Police Officer 1 Percival Rafael, PO3 Carlito Navarroza and PO1 Ralph Jason Vida.

PO1s Jonathan Perillo, Ruby Buen and Rodolfo Gonzaga were wounded and brought to the Bicol Medical Center in Naga City for treatment.

Puno, who was supposed to go to a gathering in Daet, was unhurt.

The police officers were in two marked police cars while Puno and several FDA employees were in another vehicle when they were waylaid in Barangay Napolidan at about 9:10 a.m., Chief Inspector Malou Calubaquib, Bicol police spokesperson, said.

Calubaquib said personnel of the First Camarines Sur Police Provincial Safety Company and Army soldiers near the scene responded to the incident.

Pursuit operations for the rebels are ongoing.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said communist rebels are trying to make their presence felt after peace talks bogged down.

Albayalde said he ordered  a thorough investigation into the incident.

He assured the public that police and military personnel are conducting offensives to prevent rebels from attacking non-combatants and civilians.

“I condemn in no uncertain terms the attack on FDA Director General Nela Charade Puno and her team in Camarines Sur. The DOH leadership is currently coordinating with authorities for a full investigation,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“The safety of Director General Puno and FDA employees is our priority... They have the full backing of the department,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, in Negros Oriental, an NPA rebel was killed while two soldiers were wounded in an encounter in Sitio Nabali-an, Barangay Carol-an, Ayungon town at around 4 a.m. also yesterday.

Col. Alberto Desoyo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said soldiers of the 62nd Infantry Battalion were checking the reported presence of an armed group in the area when they were fired at by around 15 rebels.

Desoyo said rounds of ammunition were recovered at the scene. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Mayen Jaymalin, Gilbert Bayoran

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