Communist guerrillas appear to be exhibiting an unusual boldness following the killing of Arturo Tabara, a former revolutionary the mainstream rebel group considers a traitor.
In Davao, four policemen were killed in an ambush laid by the New People’s Army fighters while four soldiers deployed to secure the multibillion Malampaya Gas Project in Palawan were injured in a separate assault.
The guerrillas ambushed the officers in the center of Baganga town, shooting two dead, Supt. Catalino Cuy, provincial police chief, said.
The rebels snatched two other policemen who were found dead on the outskirts of the town a few hours after the early morning ambush, Cuy told reporters.
Meanwhile, a civilian was killed and three soldiers wounded when NPA rebels ambushed a military convoy on the western island of Palawan on Wednesday, Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero, spokesman for the military, said in a statement.
Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo said the Malampaya security forces were on their way back to their headquarters in Puerto Princesa City when assaulted by about 20 rebels.
The wounded personnel were MSgt. Diosdado Bañado, SSgt. Nestor Mendoza, SN2 Nelson Abuid and A1C Roy Roger Laroza. The attack occurred near the town of Taytay as the soldiers were delivering supplies to a military detachment. The lone civilian fatality, identified only as Mr. Huerto, had hitched a ride with one of the army trucks.
The 570th Composite Tactical Wing based in Puerto Princesa dispatched two UH-1H helicopters and two OV-10 bombers to pursue the rebels.
On Friday afternoon, soldiers from the AFP Western Command’s Task Force Peacock are still scouring the area and the neighboring villages of Tantanaan, Sandoval and Santa Teresita.
Elsewhere, government troops shot dead a member of a breakaway communist guerrilla faction in a clash near the town of Arayat, north of Manila on Thursday, army spokesman Lt. Col. Buenaventura Pascual said.
The man was a suspected member of the Revolutionary Alliance of the Children of the Sweat, an NPA offshoot, he added.
The 8,600-strong NPA and its political leadership, the Communist Party of the Philippines, have been waging a 35-year Maoist armed campaign.
The party announced in August that it was suspending peace talks with the government because of Manila’s alleged failure to persuade Western countries to remove the rebels from their lists of international terrorists.
Earlier this week, the leader of a splinter group of the NPA was gunned down in Quezon City. Police suspect Tabara’s murder was the handiwork of the NPA’s urban hit squad but the main NPA leadership has yet to own the killing.
Tabara is among the highest-ranking rebel leaders to be killed since going legal after the falling out in the 1990s with the main communist faction.
AFP, Karl Kaufman