LEGAZPI CITY,12-May-2013 (PNA) – The communist guerrillas in Bicol have intensified their assaults on government forces on election-related duties for almost a week now, wounding four policemen in Sorsogon City and several Army soldiers in Masbate.
New People’s Army rebels under the Celso Minguez Command (NPA-Sorsogon) ambushed police officers on their way to deliver precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for the May 13 mid-term synchronized national and local elections at Sitio Bato, Bacon District, Sorsogon City, at 4:45 p.m., Friday.
Senior Supt. Renato Bataller, Bicol regional police spokesman, identified those wounded as Senior Insp. Juancho Balte Ibis, P02 Nelson E. Dioquino and P01 Eric A. Elquiro and another unidentified police officer, all members of the police special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team.
Bataller said the rebels detonated a landmine and subsequently unleashed a volley of fire on the service vehicle carrying the policemen and the PCOS machines.
Gregorio “Ka Greg” Bañares, NDF Bicol spokesman, admitted in a statement that the NPA staged the ambush.
He claimed there was no casualty among the rebels.
Earlier, the Jose Rapsing Command of the communist rebels operating in the island-province of Masbate attacked soldiers under the 80th Infantry Battalion at Barangay Miala in Uson town on May 9.
The soldiers belonged to the augmentation troops of the Philippine Army sent to Masbate to secure the elections and go against the rebels employed by the politicians as private armed men.
Bañares claimed that several soldiers were killed during the attack but the military denied the rebel leader’s statement.
Following these attacks against government security forces, the military’s regional command sent another battalion of soldiers to beef up security forces in Masbate.
Army Maj. Angelo Guzman, military regional spokesman, said the Army’s 80th Infantry Battalion based in Manila was dispatched to Masbate as augmentation force for election duties until May 16.
The Army’s 80IB was transported by Philippine Air Force’s C-130 cargo plane from Villamor Air Base to Masbate airport.
“The 300 soldiers will fill in the gaps in Masbate for election security operation requirements,” Guzman said.
As this developed, the Philippine Army seized a cache of illegal firearms in Masbate. Guzman said the illegal firearms and ammunition were confiscated at the residence of barangay captain Paulino Gepiga in Mabini, Uson town, on Friday.
The confiscation was done by the Joint Task Force Masbate led by Senior Supt. Arnold Albis, 9th Infantry Division’s Election Task Force “Rodeo,” and the Bicol Regional Intelligence Unit led by Insp. Gilberto Alcovindas.
Recovered guns were .45-caliber pistol, .25-cal. pistol, one 9mm Ingram machine pistol, one .22-cal. revolver, three homemade shotguns and various ammunition.
The composite team confiscated the illegal firearms from the village chieftain on the strength of a search warrant issued by Judge Maximo R. Ables of the Regional Trial Court Branch 47.
Gepiga was brought to Masbate Provincial Police Office for investigation and filing of appropriate charges.
Army Col. Samule F. Felipe, of the Army’s 903rd Infantry Brigade Election Task Force Rodeo commander, said they will continue to conduct similar operations just to ensure that the elections will be safe, peaceful and orderly.(PNA)