By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The three police officers who survived the deadly New People’s Army (NPA) ambush in Guihulngan City last week were awarded for their bravery by the Police Regional Office-18 (PRO-18).
PRO-18 spokesperson, Police Senior Inspector Armilyn Vargas, said regional director, Police Chief Superintendent Edmund Gonzales, visited Senior Police Officer 4 (SPO4) Jerome Delara, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Jordan Balderas, and PO2 Jorie Maribao at the Silliman Medical Center in Dumaguete City, where they are recovering.
Gonzales awarded each one with the PNP Wounded Personnel Medal for engaging with the rebels, despite being wounded within the initial minutes of the gunfight.
After receiving their awards, Delara recounted what transpired during the ambush.
According to Delara, he served as the driver of one of the police vehicles when they came under heavy fire.
The senior police officer said he was not able to return fire against the rebels as he was preoccupied in trying to find an escape route. The rebels then shot several M203 grenade rounds into their convoy, pinning the cops.
He also noted seeing Police Superintendent Arnel Arpon returning fire, despite being mortally wounded with several gunshot wounds in his body.
Delara confirmed he heard Arpon shout for help, but police were unable to respond as they were pinned by the rebels.
The three survivors also estimated at least 60 rebels were involved in the ambush and, when the fighting stopped, the gunmen approached them and took their service firearms, which comprised of five 9mm pistols, one .45 caliber pistol, six M16 rifles, and three M4 assault rifles.
After the hospital visit, Gonzales proceeded to the wake of the six slain officers at St. Peter Memorial Chapels in Guihulngan City and consoled the families.
The regional director also visited the Guihulngan City Police Station and assured them of the office’s support.
Vargas also stated, Gonzales directed investigators to look into the possibility the ambush was a set up.
Arpon’s remains, meanwhile, will be returned to his home in Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental./WDJ