Mindoro clash death toll rises to 3

Ed Amoroso, Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A police officer who was wounded in an encounter with communist rebels in Magsaysay, Oriental Mindoro on Friday night died while being treated in a hospital yesterday, bringing the death toll to three.

S/Sgt. Nolito Develos Jr. died at around 2:30 a.m., Lt. Imelda Tolentino, Mimaropa police spokesperson, said.

Executive M/Sgt. Jonathan Alvarez and Cpl. Estan Gongora died at the scene of the encounter in Barangay San Nicolas.

S/Sgts. Dexter Sagun, Edwin Vergara, Michael Sualog and Michael Enero and Cpls. Kim Jason Dimalaluan and Sonny Soriano remain confined in the hospital.

Pat. Armando Pullido, Jayrald Insigne, Darwin Equilla and Bayani Salgado Jr. have been discharged from the hospital.

Tolentino said two policemen reported missing, one of them identified as Cpl. Nicolas Estocapio Jr., have been accounted for.

Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar ordered a manhunt for those behind the attack, adding that police should intensify their operations against communist insurgents.

“Hindi natin palalagpasin ang ginawa ng mga teroristang ito. Patuloy natin silang tutugisin para panagutin sa kanilang karahasan at hindi na makapanggulo pa sa ating mga komunidad,” Eleazar said.

He posthumously conferred the Medalya ng Kadakilaan on the slain policemen during a visit to their wake.

Eleazar conferred the same medal to the other policemen who engaged the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, including those who were unharmed.

He conferred the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting to the wounded police officers.

NPA leader slain

Meanwhile, in Iloilo, Reynaldo Bocala, 74, who was on the list of most wanted persons of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and his companion Welly Epago, 61, were killed in an alleged shootout with government troopers in Pavia town on Friday night.

Police said Bocala was the finance officer of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay and held various other positions in the Panay regional party committee.

Personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, local police and military were serving arrest warrants for robbery with serious physical injuries, murder and arson against Bocala when they were fired at.

Bocala’s wife Concha, also a leader of the communist movement, was arrested in 2015. She released on bail supposedly to participate in the resumption of peace talks in Oslo, Norway, but she escaped.

Brig. Gen. Rolando Miranda, Western Visayas police chief, said Bocala’s death is a “big blow” to the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA in Panay.

“It will impede their operations because he was managing the finances of the communist movement in Panay,” Miranda said. – Jennifer Rendon

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