Lt Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police (PNP), ordered on Saturday, March 20, to hit back at the New People’s Army (NPA) after communist rebels killed five policemen and wounded two others in an ambush in Labo town in Camarines Norte.
In a statement, Eleazar said the ambush was motivated by the refusal of the construction firm that is building the Tagkawayan (Quezon)-Labo Road Project to yield to the demand of the NPA to pay three percent to five percent of the entire cost of the project in exchange for an assurance that the workers would not be harassed and the equipment would not be burned.
“To condemn this attack is not enough to express the anger of the men and women of the PNP, especially that the circumstances of their deployment is to secure a project that would benefit the people of Quezon and the Bicol region from the extortion activity of the local Communist Terrorist Group,” said Eleazar in a statement released on Saturday.
“Therefore, in consultation with our chief PNP, Police General Debold M Sinas and in coordination with the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), LtGen Cirilito Sobejana, I am ordering the Regional Directors of PRO4A, Police Brigadier General Felipe R Natividad and PRO5, PBGen Bartolome R Bustamante, to mobilize their forces in order to hit back not only on those responsible but also on the NPA operating in their respective Areas of Responsibility (AOR),” he added.
Based on the police report, the seven policemen are from the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company who were sent to the road construction site in Barangay Dumagmang in Labo town after the construction firm informed the local police of the NPA’s alleged demand letter.
The road project is aimed at connecting another portion of Quezon province to Camarines Norte to ease the transportation of goods for local farmers and the mobility of the local residents.
While the policemen were scouring the areas where the attacking NPA would come from at 9:45 p.m. on Friday, they were ambushed in Purok 6 of the same barangay. Five policemen were killed and two were wounded in the ambush and in the ensuing gun battle.
“The CPP-NPA-NDF has been given all the opportunity to sit down in order to give peace and development a chance for the Filipino people. Yet over the years, they repeatedly turned down peace negotiations and instead resort to cowardly attacks even in the time of the pandemic,” said Eleazar.
“Clearly, these people do not understand the language of peace so will deal with them in manner that they fully understand our message that we shall never tolerate this kind of terrorism activity,” he added.
Eleazar also ordered Bustamante to conduct investigation to determine who could have aided the NPA in the conduct of the ambush.
“Ambushes like this do not usually succeed without the help of the CTG supporters. So I am also ordering the RD, PRO5 to conduct a thorough investigation to identify those who may have aided these NPAs in the conduct of their ambush and to bring them to court,” said Eleazar.
The official also assured the families of five slain policemen of full assistance as a way of giving back for their heroism.
“To the families of our heroes, I feel your pain and anger over this incident and the most that we could do is to seek justice for them. Be rest assured that we will always be there to provide all the assistance that you deserve,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar is expected to visit the Camarines Norte on Sunday to meet wit the families of the slain cops and the two wounded policemen.