ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels owned up to the fatal ambush of a police team in Davao del Sur last week, composed mostly of forensic experts, and boasted about how they carefully planned and carried out the daring attack.
Rigoberto Sanchez, the New People’s Army (NPA) spokesman, said rebel forces from the Mount Apo Subregional Operations Command also seized four weapons from the police officers slain in the village of Sibayan, Bansalan town on March 8.
The team of policemen from the Scene of the Crime Operations was heading to the village to respond to a shooting incident when the rebels attacked them killing four and wounding another.
But Sanchez said the armed policemen were on “offensive operation” against the NPA. “Humiliated in the face of defeat and the supremacy of guerrilla tactics, the enemy desperately attempted to twist the facts regarding the incident to conceal the bare-faced rottenness of the Armed Forces’ counter-insurgency plan,” he said.
He added the police was just covering up its failed anti-insurgency operation.
“It is a vain attempt to cover-up the fact that an armed PNP (Philippine National Police) unit on offensive operation was effectively neutralized by a 14-man NPA unit. Seizing the initiative as a matter of principle in guerrilla warfare, the NPA unit was able to lure the enemy into a well-laid ambush and attack the enemy’s weak force by the NPA’s relatively superior force. In subduing the PNP unit, the NPA aims to win a battle of quick decision by demobilizing its moving targets and wiping out the enemy swiftly,” Sanchez said.
He also accused police and military forces of committing “atrocious” human rights violations and international humanitarian law violations against innocent civilians and members of indigenous tribes suspected either as NPA members or supporters in the provinces of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.
Sanchez, narrating how rebels carried out the ambush, said: “An NPA platoon was positioned at the mountainside of Barangay Sibayan in order to frustrate military and police operations in the area. Another squad took position nearby. The NPA command was in anticipating police and military operations to be coordinated by the 39th Infantry Battalion. At 6:15 a.m., heavily armed police personnel on board two mobile PNP vehicles were dispatched, apparently to reconnoiter and clear the area before deploying its soldiers.”
“The first police vehicle passed by the NPA ambush position site at 6:35 a.m. The NPA squad desisted from striking when it saw civilians on motorcycles were in close proximity to the moving PNP vehicle. The second police vehicle passed by subsequently. At 7:10 a.m., the NPA squad, positioned eight meters from the road, ambushed the passing mobile vehicle. After the first five-second volley of gunshots, the NPA commander called for the enemy troops to surrender and lay down their arms.”
He continued, “the PNP personnel, however, retaliated with numerous return of fire. A wounded police officer jumped off from the vehicle. It took a ten-minute exchange of fire before the NPA squad succeeded in subduing the PNP unit then they cautiously approached the PNP mobile vehicle and seized two M16 rifles and two 9mm Glock pistols. At 7:25 a.m., the NPA 14-man squad safely withdrew from the ambush site.”
Sanchez said rebels will continue to exact revolutionary justice and wage tactical offensives anytime and anywhere in the countryside and areas under the so-called People’s Democratic Government. “Tempered in the long running guerrilla warfare in the country, the Red fighters will continue to deliver heavy blows against the enemy, seize arms to increase the number of its full-fighting units and advance the level of the people’s war,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte immediately ordered the police and military to run after the rebels. The attack occurred as members of the government panel were holding back channel talks with the rebels for the resumption of peace negotiations.
Duterte suspended the peace talks last month after rebels launched a series of deadly attacks in the restive region following government’s failure to release some 400 political detainees – mostly NPA leaders and members arrested and captured in the past by authorities – a promise the president made during the election campaign.