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TACLOBAN, Philippines – At least three policemen were killed, and four were wounded on Tuesday, January 30, during a fierce encounter that took place as law enforcers attempted to arrest the alleged leader of an armed group in Santa Margarita, Samar.
The wanted man, Edito Ampoan, a resident of the village of Mahayag in Santa Margarita town, was ordered arrested by a court for murder, frustrated murder, and frustrated homicide cases.
The Samar police office, in a report, identified those killed as Master Sergeant Paul Terence Paclibar, Staff Sergeant Christian Tallo, and Corporal Eliazar Estrelles Jr.
Wounded were Corporal Ranel Pedamato, and three patrolmen identified as Mark Redoblado, Mark Jason Sixta, and Ham Kritner Cabalis.
Police said the law enforcers, members of the 1st Samar Police Mobile Force Company and Regional Mobile Force Battalion, were met with strong resistance by Ampoan’s group as they tried to serve the warrant at around 5 am on Tuesday.
Colonel Peter Limbauan, Philippine National Police-Samar director, said Ampoan, alias Jimboy, escaped along with two suspects identified as Jojo Altarejos and Rogelio Macurol.
Police arrested four other suspects after the gunbattle, and seized an M16 rifle, a caliber .45 pistol, and ammunition.
Limbauan has ordered a manhunt for Ampoan and the other suspects who managed to escape.
Army Captain Jefferson Mariano, chief of the Army’s Public Affairs Office in Eastern Visayas, told Rappler that soldiers were deployed to help bring the wounded policemen from Barangay Mahayag to the Calbayog Hospital.
Mariano said the military has mobilized a group to help in going after the suspects and get rid of other private groups that have affected the peace and order situation in Samar.
“It is also our responsibility to support the operations of the PNP,” he said.
Limbauan, for his part, vowed to bring Ampoan and the other suspects to justice.
“The sacrifice made by [our policemen] fuels our passion to seek justice. We also honor our wounded comrades who fought,” Limbauan said.
The activities of private armed groups have created a climate of fear in Samar. Some of these groups, with records of harassing civilians, have leaders who are said to have close associations with warring political parties in the province. – Rappler.com