CAMP OLA, Albay – Three soldiers were killed, while another was wounded, in an ambush by still unidentified suspect in Legazpi City, Albay on Sunday morning.
Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5) spokesperson Major Malu Calubaquib identified the fatalities as Corporal Joemar Mancilla, PFC Ronald Luna and PFC Reymar Badong, while Sgt. Ferdinand Fernandez survived the ambush but sustained gunshot wounds.
The soldiers who were in civilian clothes, were riding a motorcycle when they were ambushed in Barangay Banquerohan, in Legazpi City at around 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Calubaquib said the soldiers were just coming from combat clearing operations when they were waylaid as they were heading back to camp.
According to Capt. John Paul Belleza, Ninth Infantry Division (9th ID) spokesperson, the soldiers earlier coordinated with Legazpi police for the entry of heavy equipment of a private contractor that will conduct a road opening from Barangay Villahermosa in Daraga, to Barangay Bariis in Legazpi.
“Nakadeploy sila para sa Community Support Program. Nagcocoordinate sila sa PNP [Philippine National Police] kasi may road opening daw doon sa lugar and then ‘yun ang nangyari, tinambangan sila (They were deployed for a Community Support Program (CSP). They were coordinating with the PNP since there was a road opening in the area when they were ambushed),” Belleza said.
He said the troops were “treacherously” killed by the gunmen, who immediately sped off after the incident.
“Iyon ang nakakalungkot kasi patraydor naman na birada iyon. Nandoon ang tropa to help the people kasi may community development program. Masyadong napakawicked ng birada (It’s saddening because they were shot treacherously. The troops were in the area to help the people for a community development program. It was wicked),” Belleza said in exasperation.
He also said that the attack must have been planned since the troops were not wearing their fatigue uniforms but they were still identified by the gunmen.
Among the team of four, three were killed on the spot while another one managed to escape. Belleza asked to withhold the names of the victims pending informing of their families.
He said a follow-up operation was conducted to hunt the suspects and determine the motive behind the attack.
The military will also look for leads from former communist rebels who surrendered to them recently, he noted.
Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5) issued a statement Sunday afternoon, condemning the ambush, which was allegedly perpetrated by the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).
PRO-5 director Police Brigadier General Bartolome Bustamante said it was a blatant disregard of the law, and a utter lack of respect for human lives.
“Such cowardly and traitorous acts once again reveal their blatant disregard of the law and their utter lack of respect for human lives. This dastardly act is another addition to the Communist group’s long list of crimes and further cement their reputation as a terrorist group,” he said.
Bartolome assured the public that the Philippine National Police (PNP), along with its counterparts in the military, will do what it can to go after the perpetrators of this crime and serve justice to the victims.
“We appeal to the public to help the government eradicate the terrorist group for us to finally realize our hopes of creating better, safer and more peaceful communities for all,” Bartolome ended.