8 policemen killed in Cagayan ambush

(5th UPDATE) The rebels first set off a landmine before they gunned down members of the elite Special Action Force

MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – Suspected communist rebels killed 8 members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police in a Monday morning, May 27, ambush in Cagayan.

Chief Supt Rodrigo de Gracia, Cagayan Valley police director, said the 8 policemen were on board a truck when around 30 suspected rebels first set off a landmine then fired at the lawmen at around 8:30 am in Barangay Cataratan, Allacapan town.

Seven other SAF members were injured, said Insp. Cesar Orlanes, Cagayan Valley police spokesperson. The injured were brought to the Ballesteros Municipal Hospital.

Initial reports said 7 SAF members died on the spot. One of the wounded later died in the hospital.

The ambush occurred just two kilometers from the Cagayan provincial police headquarters.

The victims were on their way back to the provincial headquarters to undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG) test as part of their annual physical examination, according to a statement posted on the official website of Cagayan Valley police regional office, 

The policemen were helpless as about 30 rebels set off a landmine and fired at their truck, the statement added.

Police identified the fatalities by their last names: PO3 Tabarejo, PO2 Pinated, PO2 Cubilla, PO1 Brioso, PO2 Mateo, PO1 Sanchez and PO2 Bowat. Another cop, PO2 Ronald Castulo, was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

Seven other SAF troopers were seriously wounded and were identified as PO2 Gomez, PO1 Dolete, PO2 Adangi, PO1 Asunio, PO2 Monay, PO2 Amilagan and PO2 Dalwidao.

They all sustained multiple gunshot wounds.

Chief Supt Rodrigo de Gracia, regional police director, condemned the attack and the “treacherous” use of landmines.

The government peace panel assigned to hold talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the guerrillas, condemned the attack. “We maintain that the use of landmines by the NPA (New People’s Army) is a gross violation of Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity as well as the Ottawa Protocol banning the use of landmines,” the panel said in a statement.

“By its insistence on using landmines and its insistence on continuing a regime of violence instead of talking peace, the NPA turns a blind eye to the clamor of our people for a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict,” it added.

Talks between both sides broke down shortly before the May 13 elections. The NDF is accusing the government of negotiating in bad faith. But the government peace panel said the NDF has set tough conditions for the peace process to move.

The peace process is aimed at ending 40 years of communist insurgency. – Rappler.com

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