2 children, policeman killed in NPA ambush

2 children, policeman killed in NPA ambush
By Marlon Ramos
Last updated 02:02am (Mla time) 07/21/2007

CAMP VICENTE LIM—Two children and a policeman were killed in an attack by gunmen believed to be communist guerrillas in Taytay, Palawan, police said yesterday.


Two other policemen, who were earlier reported missing in action after the attack, have already surfaced and reported to their mother unit at the 413rd Provincial Police Mobile Group (PPMG), also in Taytay town, said Senior Supt. Dennis Peña, Palawan police director.


Peña identified the casualties as PO3 Saturnino Lazo, Jennifer Cortez, 13, and her sister Anne-Anne, 7.


Wounded were PO1 Walter Gapuz, the children’s mother Nilda Cortez, and the Cortez girls’ other sister, Beverly, 9.


Ludegario Cortez, the victims’ father, was unhurt.


PO2 Johnnyver Abanto and PO2 Edgardo Sanchez, who were reported missing, were found by village officials in a ravine near the ambush site.


Peña condemned the attack, saying it showed the New People’s Army’s true color.


He said the band of rebels who staged the ambush could have been composed of young and inexperienced NPA fighters “as shown by what they did.”


He said it was uncommon for NPA rebels to fire at government troops if it would endanger the nearby civilian population.


“Usually, the NPAs don’t attack when there are civilians (near their targets),” he said.


Peña added it was “uncharacteristic” of the NPAs not to wipe out their targets when they are able to control higher ground in an ambush site.


He said the NPAs also did not gather the assault rifles of the slain and wounded police officers.


Peña said the policemen went to Barangay Calauag on aboard a police vehicle to check on a report that residents found an abandoned motorcycle in the area.


When the policemen arrived in the area, they saw the motorcycle and loaded it into their vehicle.


On their way back to their detachment, Ludegario Cortez, his wife and their three daughters asked the policemen for a ride to a nearby barangay.


But before the family could reach their destination and disembark from the vehicle, around 15 to 20 suspected communist rebels fired at the police vehicle, resulting in a gunfight.


Peña said Anne-anne was killed instantly as she was hit in the head.


“The girl was beyond recognition as bullets literally shattered her head,” he said.


Peña said Lazo was able to fire back at the rebels despite his bullet wounds.


The rebels immediately retreated a few minutes after they waylaid the police vehicle, leaving behind the firearms of the slain policemen.


Peña said they already airlifted the wounded persons to a hospital in Puerto Princesa City.


He said they are still investigating if the motorcycle was intentionally deserted by the rebels in the area as part of their plan to lure government troops into the ambush site.


The barangay official who supposedly phoned the police detachment to report about the discovery of the abandoned motorcycle denied that he called for police assistance.


“It could be part of the plot of the NPAs to ambush our policemen,” Peña said.


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