By Juan Escandor Jr.
DAET, Camarines Norte---A police officer, who is a member of the mobile patrol group that the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels ambushed in Labo town last December 2, recalls the tragic fate that his fellow policemen suffered where two of them were killed and six others seriously wounded.
PO1 Francis Pilapil was spared from the ordeal because at the last minute he was ordered by his superior to stay put at the detachment while nine of his fellow police officers left for roving patrol duty.
Narrating the story of the survivors, Pilapil said the surprise attack by the NPA rebels using three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) immediately shattered the defense of the law enforcers when the two patrol cars they were riding swerved towards the side of the road.
He said the NPA rebels also used Molotov cocktails loaded with iron nails and scrap metals aggravating their situation as the volley of gunfire rained on them.
Pilapil said PO2 Richard Abad was thrown off the patrol car on the bridge with a bullet wound on his knee.
“Later, the NPA rebels went near him and took his M16 riffle. They took his 9mm pistol and shot him on the head,” he said.
Pilapil said other police officers jumped into a ravine for cover as the NPA rebels continued to advance their attack.
He said PO1 Pedro Valeros suffered gunshot wound in his thigh but initially survived the ambush because he dived into a fishpond to save himself.
Pilapil said Valeros was later brought to the Camarines Norte Provincial Hospital but after three days the gunshot wound on his thigh turned black because of infection.
He said Valeros was rushed to the Mother Seton Hospital in Naga City after three days where his thigh was amputated.
“Unfortunately, he died the day when his right thigh was amputated that brought to two the fatalities in the ambush,” Pilapil said.
Chief Superintendent Antonio Gardiola, police regional director, has ordered all police personnel in Bicol to observe utmost precaution and consciousness regarding security following the Labo ambush.
Gardiola said additional arms were provided to the police force in Bicol to improve their firepower.
He said the Army remains to be the lead force in the anti-insurgency campaign with the police extending support.
Capt. Joash Pramis, head of the 9th Division of Public Affairs Office, condemned the use of NPA rebels’ use of IEDs in the ambush.
“Let us know why they use the IEDs. Is there necessity to use them? The nature of the bomb is uncontrollable. Once it explodes it can damage properties, lives of innocent people,” Pramis said.
He said that because the NPA rebels planted the IEDs on the road, it is not only the members of the Philippine National Police or the Army who are endangered but the civilians as well.
On Dec. 7, Vice President Leni Robredo visited the wake of the two police officers who died in the ambush.
Robredo said she condemns in strongest sense the ambush the killed two police officers and wounded six others.