Policemen injured in Calbayog encounter
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Two police officers were injured in an encounter with a private armed group (PAG) early Saturday morning, June 18, in a remote and mountainous area of Sitio Puso, Barangay Tapae, Calbayog City.
Police regional director Chief Superintendent Jose Erwin Villacorte told Rappler that the tracker team, led by Senior Inspector Zalde Cagampang, encountered around 20 members of a PAG believed to be led by Jimmy Managaysay.
Villacorte said the police team endured the heavy firefight that lasted for more than 20 minutes, wounding Inspector Kim Oribillo and Inspector Alexander Alfonso. The PAG managed to withdraw, although blood stains were seen along the group's escape route.
One KG-9 semiautomatic with a magazine was recovered by the police from the scene.
The wounded police officers were immediately brought to St Camillus Hospital in Calbayog City.
With or without elections, Samar has been dealing with armed conflict between warring members of PAGs.
The Managaysay group is one of the armed groups active in Samar, and police intelligence reports indicate that Jimmy Managaysay, the leader of the group, is linked to a politician in Samar.
PAGs are believed to be maintained by some politicians in Samar, and are said to have full control of some villages in the province.
They are allegedly responsible for torture, abduction, and terrorizing ordinary civilians, particularly farmers. Some farmers in remote villages reportedly flee from their homes, even moving to Manila, as they fear for their safety.
Police records showed that Managaysay's group is suspected to be behind the killings of Sonny Regulacion and 4 of his family members in Barangay Victory, Calbayog City last September.
Regulacion was a known political leader of Calbayog Mayor Ronald Aquino, who is a close political ally of Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, who hails from this city.
Villacorte admitted there is no quick fix to bring about stability and peace in Samar.
The PNP director of Eastern Visayas is calling on all local officials in Samar to help end the violence, and to ensure culpability for past abuses. – Jazmin Bonifacio / Rappler.com