PNP alerts all stations in Region 12 for possible NPA attack

Chief Supt. Fidel Cimatu, Region 12 police director, directed police stations, especially those in critical areas, to fortify their defenses and intensify their intelligence monitoring on possible movements of guerrilla groups in the area.

Three policemen and a civilian were wounded when about 50 suspected NPA guerrillas aboard two passenger jeepneys swooped down on Tampakan and raided its municipal hall and nearby police and fire stations, at 11 p.m. 

The NPA carted away several firearms, ammunition, communication equipment and some personal properties.

Cimatu personally inspected the scene of the attacks this morning and ordered a region-wide pursuit operation against the raiders, who were allegedly led by Commanders Emmanuel "Bobo" Fernandez and Jeffrey Legaspi of the NPA's Front 76.

He also directed Supt. Norberto Batislaong, Region 12 police intelligence and investigation division chief, to conduct a deeper investigation on the attack.

Early this morning, police operatives recovered one of the passenger jeepneys allegedly used by the NPAs in the attack in Purok Randal in nearby Barangay Cacub, Koronadal City.

Based on initial verification made by police authorities, the orange-colored passenger jeepney was reportedly owned by Generoso Rentura of Barangay San Jose in Koronadal.

The police were currently verifying reports that the NPAs abducted the driver of the vehicle, reportedly the son of the owner, a few hours before the attacks.  

Clarita Paciente, Cacub Barangay chairperson, said the vehicle was reportedly abandoned by the NPA at around midnight Thursday.

Citing accounts from local residents, she said at least 30 guerrillas, some of whom were women, were aboard the vehicle.

"They were carrying a wounded person when they arrived as evidenced by the blood stains on the vehicle," she said.

Paciente said one of the residents saw two women carrying a wounded comrade while the group fled on foot towards the vicinity of Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat.

Senior Supt. Robert Kiunisala, South Cotabato police director, said the incident should serve as a lesson to other police stations to seriously secure their areas and intensify their intelligence monitoring.

"It happened because of the (Tampakan) policemen failed to properly secure their premises. They clearly relaxed and the rebels saw an opportunity to launch the attacks," he said.

But Kiunisala stressed that police stations are vulnerable targets by nature because of their accessibility to civilians.

"The fact that anybody can just go there and file a complaint or blotter makes it vulnerable to these kind of attacks," he said.

Tampakan Vice Mayor
Relly Leysa said tension remained at the town proper as of this morning but cited that the operations at the municipal hall have returned to normal.

"We're back to normal business but the tension is still there," said Leysa, who was at his house 30 meters away from the area during the attacks.

Leysa said they will convene the municipal peace and order council for an emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss the incident and evaluate possible strategies to ensure their security. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)