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In Northern Samar NPA rebels attack Lapinig PNP station; 2 cops injured

Miriam Garcia Desacada (The Freeman) - August 11, 2018 - 12:00am

CATARMAN, Northern Samar, Philippines — An estimated 100 members of the New People’s Army assaulted the Lapinig (Northern Samar) Police Station yesterday dawn, wounded two policemen and seized two police service firearms before fleeing from the scene.

 

Initial police reports showed that the rebels were armed with M-14s, M16s, Uzis, M203s, and K submachine guns in attacking the town’s police station, which were manned only by eight policemen at around 1:44 a.m.

The wounded policemen were identified as Police Officer 3 Gerry Quilecol and PO1 Edison Aguirre, who along with their fellow policemen, sensing they were outmanned, had to withdrew from the scene momentarily. This prompted the rebels to enter the station and carted away documents, two pistols, and other valuables.

There were initial reports that four of the policemen who withdrew from the firefight, were missing but by 6 a.m. or about five hours after, they returned and were all accounted for.

It was reported that the NPA assault of the Lapinig Police Station was done on the day of the scheduled arraignment in court of Marietta Bartolo, alias Tayang, an officer of the NPA’s group in Northern Samar who was arrested for multiple murder and sedition charges last July 13 in the province’s capital town of Catarman.

Lapinig town Mayor Maria Luisa Menzon told The Freeman that, after the siege and before leaving the station, the rebels shouted, “Mabuhay ang NPA.”

Menzon said that, for the past several years, the town has a military detachment but this was pulled out last year for undetermined reason.

"It (the detachment) helped us a lot in securing our town, and preventing the NPA from attacking. This time we are appealing to the leadership of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division to please deploy troops here for a detachment and police augmentation. What worried me much during the attack were the residents who might be caught in the crossfire, considering that the police station was within a residential area,” Menzon added.

Lapinig is the farthest coastal town in Northern Samar and one of many towns in the province tagged as NPA infested areas. This means that the town really needs security focus from military and police authorities, said the mayor.

Inspector Noli Montebon, chief of the Lapinig Police, said that as part of the PNP’s standard operating procedure, the entire police force of his station will automatically be relieved, pending the investigation of the incident over possible lapses of intelligence operation and why the rebels succeeded in attacking the police station.

Senior Superintendent Geraldo Avengoza, chief of the Police Community Relations and spokesperson of the Police Regional Office-8, said, "We assured the public that there will be fair, and no whitewash in the investigation." He added that the entire police force in the region is now placed under red alert status for possibly more NPA atrocities in the region.

Chief Supt. Mariel Magaway, PRO-8 director who was a PMA classmate of PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, however refused to issue any statement to the media, especially about the Lapinig attack and the series of criminalities during his three-month stint in the region’s police force.

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