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NPA kills 8 elite cops in ambush

On way to medical check-up in Cagayan Communist rebels ambushed members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police, killing eight and wounding six others on Monday morning along the national highway in Allacapan town in Cagayan. Chief Supt. Rodrigo de Gracia, director of the Police Regional Office 2 based in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, said the ambush happened at around 8:30 a.m. at the boundary of Barangay Cataratan and Barangay Centro West, which is only approximately two kilometers away from the Allacapan Police Station. De Gracia said the rebels belonged to the NPA’s Danilo Ben Command. In Malacanang, presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valt said the government condemns the latest attack launched by the New People’ Army against the police. “We condemn the attack on our people and what I can tell you right now from the PNP is that their pursuit operations against the perpetrators are ongoing,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte in a press briefing. “Muli pinapaabot natin iyong ating taos-pusong pakikiramay doon sa kanilang mga pamilya,” she said. (Again, we would like to extend our heart-felt condolences to the families of those who died in the ambush). Cagayan police spokesman Inspector Cesar Ornales said the policemen were on their way to Tuguegarao City for a routine medical check-up when the police vehicle they were riding hit a land mine. The explosion was followed by a volley of fire from the rebels, who had hidden behind the bushes. Ornales said seven of the policemen died on the spot, while the eighth died as he was being brought to a hospital. The fatalities were identified as Police Officer 3 Vladimir Tabarejo, PO2 Elmark Rodney Pinated, PO2 Dexter Cubilla, PO1 Erick Brioso, PO2 Angelbert Mateo, PO1 Jerome Sanchez, PO2 Jonnel Bowat and PO2 Ronald Castulo. Ornales said the victims belonged to the 2nd Special Action Company of the 2nd Special Action Battalion of the Special Action Force. Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., spokesman of the Philippine National Police, said the national headquarters has immediately issued a directive reminding all police forces nationwide to raise their level of alertness not only against the NPA but also other threat groups. “The national headquarters has directed all units to maintain a very high standard of alertness and operational readiness. All units are expected to revisit their defense plan and strategy and they should enhance this to cope with the security situation in their respective area,” Cerbo said. Cerbo, however, dismissed reports that there were security lapses on the part of the group of policemen who were not able to put up a fight because of the impact of the ambush. “Handa naman ‘yung grupo at nakalaban din. Naunahan lang talaga sila,” Cerbo said. In Quezon, the Southern Luzon Command said it captured a New People’s Army rebel, while a civilian was wounded in an encounter between the guerrillas and the military. The military identified the captured NPA rebel as Roger Villaflores, also known as Michael/ Noy/ Nika,  while the wounded  civilian was identified as Ferdinand Sayno, a resident of Siniloan, Laguna. Government troops were conducting combat operations when they clashed with about eight rebels in Bakuyo sub-village in Llavac village, Real town. The military said they confiscated subversive documents and several firearms left behind by fleeing rebels. Peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NFP), the negotiating arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA had been stalled since February 2011. Chief government negotiator Alexander Padilla blamed communist leader Joma Sison for the impasse, saying that Sison, who authored the Special Track – reneged on his earlier proposal for an indefinite ceasefire and imposed demands that would have placed the ST on the protracted and difficult track. Padilla reiterated that the government remains open to negotiating peace with the communist rebels, and that is why the government was trying to develop a new approach to peace talks that is “time bound, agenda bound, with no preconditions and based on earnest consultations with the people.” The government later hinted that a rift within the communist movement could be influencing the direction of the stalled peace talks. Presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles said the government may not be talking to the right people. “Who are we talking to? Are they the right people? That was the advice to us, that we should examine that question,” Deles said. Padilla said governments intelligence sources indicated that it was not Sison,  but husband-and-wife Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, members of the CPP’s Central Committee, who are “now in charge of the CPP-NPA.” The incident is the second big blow against government forces after Saturday’s clash between soldiers of the Philippine Marine Corps and Abu Sayyaf Group bandits,  where 7 soldiers were killed and nine others wounded in Patikul, Sulu. Government troops backed by assault helicopters were hunting down the fleeing militants, believed to be led by Jul-Aswan Sawadjaan, an Abu Sayyaf commander accused in the kidnappings of a Jordanian journalist and two European bird watchers who are still being held by the ASG.  With AP
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