SouthCot cop to get medal for ‘single-handedly’ fighting NPAs

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 1 Apr) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) will confer the medal of valor or “Medalya ng Kagitingan” to a policeman assigned in T’boli town in South Cotabato for “single-handedly” fighting off a band of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who attacked a police community outpost in the area about two weeks ago.

Senior Supt. Romeo Ver, South Cotabato police director, said Monday PNP Director General Alan Purisima endorsed the awarding of the prestigious medal to Police Officer 1 Roel Armecin in recognition of his “bravery and self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty.”

He said PO1 Armecin will receive the award in a ceremony scheduled this week at the PNP national headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

“This is a major achievement and at the same time a source of inspiration for the entire South Cotabato police,” Ver said.

The PNP said the “Medalya ng Kagitingan,” which is the highest award for courage and gallantry in combat, is given for actions involving “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life and limb above and beyond the call of duty.”

In case of actual combat, it said that the award may be given if an “enemy force is so overwhelming as compared to the government troops.”

Ver said the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office and the Police Regional Office (PRO) 12 recommended the award to PO1 Armecin for “bravely” resisting a raid staged by around 15 NPA rebels on a community police assistance center in Barangay Sinolon in T’boli town last March 20.

An incident report released by PRO 12 said Armecin and colleague Police Officer 3 German Golingay were manning the outpost when the NPA rebels arrived at noon aboard a commandeered white Isuzu Elf truck and suddenly opened fire.

It said the rebels, who were reportedly carrying AK-47 rifles and other high-powered firearms, were believed to be members of the NPA’s Front 73 led by a certain Antonio Albotra alias “Ka Warren” and the Southern Alip Regional Guerilla Unit-Far South led by one Ronie Nayre alias “Kumander Joy Joy.”

The rebels reportedly lobbed a grenade, fired inside the outpost, forcibly destroyed the cabinets and carted away a caliber .45 handgun issued to Golingay, three sets of PNP uniforms as well as various personal items owned by Armecin and Golingay.

During the attack, which left a civilian injured, Armecin was able to fight back and saw two of the rebels getting hit in the process.

The National Democratic Front-Far South Mindanao Region earlier admitted that the NPA’s Front 73 had staged the attack, which it described as a “punitive action” against the presence of multinational companies in the area.

The group claimed that one of the rebels who attacked the police outpost was killed in an ensuing firefight then.

But Ver said they received intelligence reports that two more rebels who were seriously wounded during the firefight have recently died.

He said one of the fatalities was allegedly a close relative of NPA Far South Mindanao leader Emmanuel Fernandez alias “Kumander Bobo.”

“That is the reason why we remain on full alert right now. They might be planning another major attack in retaliation for the killing of their comrades,” he added.

Ver said they have put in place the necessary security measures to avert similar attacks and local police units recently received augmentation from the regional police’s public safety battalion.

He said the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion also beefed up their presence in the area to help counter any possible movements being planned by the rebels. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)