A police patrol car fell into the roadside while a policeman and a barangay “kagawad” were injured after an alleged improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated in Barangay Pughanan, Lambunao, Iloilo around 9:45 a.m. yesterday.
The injured were identified as Police Master Sergeant Christopher Losbañez and barangay kagawad Larry Ajeno.
The explosion occurred while eight officers of the Lambunao Police Station, including Ajeno, were onboard a patrol car on their way to Barangay Pughanan to conduct a follow-up investigation on the encounter between government forces and alleged rebels which transpired on March 11, said Lt. Col. Joem Malong, Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) spokesperson.
As of this writing, the authorities are yet to determine the type of explosive detonated by alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA). Malong said Explosives and Ordnance Division team is still conducting an investigation at the site.
The PRO-6 spokesperson also believes that by doing the act, the NPA was just trying to be relevant especially that many of their members are returning to the folds of the government not only in Iloilo but also in other Western Visayas’ areas.
“Siguro nabatyagan na nila nga depleting naman ang ila nga forces that is why they have to be felt by the general public. It’s their tactics man, one way nga p’wede nila i-control ang mga pumoluyo because of fear nga mag-upod sa ila. Na-interview man naton, ang iban naga-upod man lang sa ila tungod sa kahadlok,” said Malong.
She further noted that the areas targeted by the rebels such as Janiuay and Lambunao towns have many government projects.
“It is one way man siguro magpabatyag sa mga kontraktor para sa ila extortion activities,” Malong added.
To counter this, she said they are strengthening their intelligence monitoring, adding the support given by the community is a very big help to the side of the government.
Securities among police stations are also strengthened.
“Every movement namon kinanglan well-coordinated with the counterpart kag sa amon man dapat cleared ang places nga kadtoan namon para indi masulit ang mga incidents kon sa diin p’wede mahalitan ang mga civilian,” Malong added.
To recall, last March 3, a landmine also exploded in the boundary of barangays Pangilihan and Canawili in Janiuay while the town police were conducting a road clearing operation for the scheduled inauguration of provincial government agroforestry support facility in nearby Barangay Panuran. None of the policemen was hurt. The NPA, in a statement, owned up to the said attack.
Meanwhile, Major Cenon Pancito III, spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said the recent NPA atrocities in Janiuay and Lambunao solidify their data that indeed the area is where the Central Front of the Kilusang Rehiyong Panay is operating./WDJ