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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The convoy of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno was ambushed in Lupi town in Camarines Sur on Thursday, October 18.
Puno’s convoy, consisting of her main vehicle as well as one police vehicle in front and one at the back, was snaking through Barangay Napolidan at around 9:10 am, when around 20 assailants opened fire.
The gunmen managed to hit only the tailing police vehicle, killing 3 cops onboard. The fatalities were identified in a police report as:
- SPO1 Percival Rafael
- PO3 Carlito Navarroza
- PO1 Ralph Jason Vida
The following cops were wounded:
- PO1 Jonathan Perillo
- PO1 Ruby Buena
- PO1 Rodolfo Gonzaga
Camarines Sur Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) cops were able to respond quickly to the area and “retaliate.”
According to Bicol police regional director Chief Superintendent Arnel Escobal, FDA chief Puno was unharmed as her vehicle was able to speed off when the police vehicle behind them were barraged with bullets.
Escobal said rebels from the communist New People’s Army could have been behind the attack.
“Wala namang ibang armed group diyan sa area na ‘yan (There’s no other armed group in that area),” Escobal told Rappler in a phone interview on Thursday.
In a statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III condemned “in no uncertain terms” the attack on Puno and other FDA employees. He said the Department of Health would coordinate with authorities in investigating the incident.
“The safety of DG (Director General) Puno and other FDA employees is our top priority at the moment,” Duque said. – with a report from Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler.com