By: Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday conferred medals on the four police officers who were killed in an ambush staged by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) in Ayungon, Negros Oriental last Thursday.
Duterte, along with Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones, and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Oscar Albayalde visited the wake of the slain policemen at the multi-purpose hall of Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office (Norppo) headquarters in Sibulan town past 10 p.m.
Duterte gave the posthumous award – Order of Lapu-Lapu, Rank of Kalasag – to Police Corporal Relebert Beronio, and Patrolmen Raffy Callao, Roel Cabellon, and Marquino de Leon.
Duterte also talked to the victims’ families.
The families of the slain cops will receive P250,000 financial assistance from the government while other benefits are extended through the Comprehensive Social Benefit Program.
On July 18, four policemen, who were all members of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB)-7, were supposed to verify reports about the alleged presence of NPA at Sitio Yamot, Barangay Mabato when they were reportedly waylaid by about 30 to 40 armed men.
The slain policemen, who were intelligence operatives, were allegedly disarmed, hogtied, tortured, and executed.
Earlier, Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas, director of Police Regional Office (PRO)-7, said the ambush was a “setup”, considering that the rebels already positioned themselves behind the trail of the policemen.
Sinas also said that the cops were identified even before they went to the area.
Authorities continue to probe the incident to identify those behind the killing.
The PNP, in a statement last Saturday, mourned the loss of the policemen who were “treacherously murdered” in the province.
“We assure the bereaved families of all available assistance that government can extend if only to ease their suffering over this tragic loss,” it said.
Albayalde said someone must be held accountable for the killing of the policemen to give justice to the victims and their families.
He said they will conduct a thorough investigation on the incident.
Police and military pursuit operations are underway in Negros Oriental against the persons behind this affront on civility and crime against the people.
The recent attack happened two years after the Guihulngan ambush, killing six policemen, including city police chief, Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Arpon at Barangay Magsaysay in the said city on July 21, 2017. It also resulted to the injuries of three other policemen when they responded to the call for assistance of a councilor who was also gunned down by the alleged rebels last year.