Police identify suspects:Cops tortured before killed
Raffy T. Cabristante (The Freeman) - July 21, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The four police officers who were ambushed in Negros Oriental on July 18 by alleged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were executed summarily, the police said.

Police Regional Office - 7 Director Debold Sinas who inspected the crime scene in Ayungon town said the cops were allegedly dragged, hogtied, and “buttstroked” by at least 30 armed men.

He described what happened to the victims as a summary execution. Autopsy reportedly found one of the slain cops suffered a fractured rib.

Sinas said their investigation also revealed that the victims were kneeling when they were shot based on the trajectory of the bullet holes at the back of their heads.

The four cops were members of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion-7 assigned to a detachment in Sitio Nabingka, Barangay Mabato in Ayungon.

They were verifying intelligence reports of the presence of NPA rebels in the area when they were attacked.

On July 21, 2017, a similar ambush occurred in Barangay Magsaysay, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, where six police officers were killed. Among those slain was the city's then police chief, Supt. Arnel Arpon.

In another press conference last night, Sinas also revealed that they have identified possible suspects in the ambush-slay but declined to disclose their identities so as not to "alarm anyone."

Presidential honors

Yesterday, President Rodrigo Duterte flew to Negros Oriental to condole with the families of the four police officers.

He arrived Saturday night and met with the bereaved families of Police Corporal Relebert Beronio, Patrolman Raffy Callao, Patrolman Ruel Cabellon, and Patrolman Marquino de Leon at the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office's (NORPPO) Camp Francisco Fernandez Jr. in Agan-an, Sibulan town where the four cops lie in state.

The camp is located a few kilometers north of the province's capital Dumaguete City.

Duterte also honored the cops by conferring them with the Order of Lapu-Lapu along with the Kalasag Medal.

Created by Duterte in 2017, the Order of Lapu-Lapu recognizes government workers and private individuals who provide "invaluable or extraordinary service in nation to a campaign or advocacy of the President." The Kalasag Medal is given to those who lost their lives as a direct result in participating in activities related to the President's campaigns and advocacies.

Aside from Duterte, other national officials who attended the wake included Police Regional Office - 7 Director Debold Sinas, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año. —  JMO (FREEMAN)

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