Gov’t troops recover body of NPA casualty in 2017 ambush
Viga, Catanduanes  ·  
posted 27-Nov-2018  ·  
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THE REMAINS. of an NPA rebel killed in the Aug. 2017 Viga ambush lies in the three-foot deep grave where he was buried by his comrades.

Police and Army personnel last week exhumed the body of a New People’s Army guerilla who reportedly died in the Aug. 10, 2017 ambush in Sagrada, Viga that led to the death of two law enforcers.

Personnel of the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company, the Catanduanes Police Provincial Office, and the Alpha Company of the 83rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division went to a grassy area near a river bank at sitio Pinarayan in Sagrada where, a confidential informant claimed, the New People’s Army had buried its lone fatality in last year’s violent clash.

The tipster claimed that the body at the site belonged to one Ka Jeremy, a resident of another province in the Bicol region, who perished after sustaining several gunshot wounds from bullets fired by PO2 Eva Torcelino, then 30. The lady cop was one of the police’s casualties along with PO3 Joseph Tupue, then 38.

At 11 A.M. on Wednesday last week, the team finished their exhumation of the corpse found wrapped in a material and turned it over to the Viga police station. Prior to its receipt, the station had already coordinated the matter with the Provincial Crime Laboratory Office at Camp Francisco Camacho and-Catanduanes and the Rural Health Unit in Viga for proper disposition.

It may be recalled that on Aug. 10, 2017, a two-vehicle police convoy left the Viga municipal hall, carrying 10 Surrendered Drug Users as well as four family members to an orientation on the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for those with moderate Substance Use Disorder (SUD) at Rakdell Inn in Virac.

Elements of the Viga police station composed of SPO1 Marwin de Vera, PO1 Rousnel Carbonnel, PO1 Bryan Magalong and the drug surrenderees were with PO1 Robert Teodones and PO1 Jomar Pantaleon of the Police Public Safety Company (PPSC) 2nd Maneuver Platoon on board Toyota Hilux and Mahindra police cars traveling along the national road at barangay Sagrada about 150 meters from Kanlangka bridge at P. Vera (Summit) at 12:30 P.M. when an improvised explosive device was detonated at the left side of the road.

A split second later, a heavy volume of fire was directed at the convoy from the top of the hill at the left, with a bullet hitting SPO1 de Vera, then driving the Hilux. The IED blast and the barrage of bullets also resulted in the wounding of five surrendered drug users and shredded the tires of the Mahindra.

As the lead car slowed following de Vera’s injury, his companion, PO1 Magalong, got hold of the wheel and at the same time used his left foot to press on the accelerator. The quick action enabled the Hilux and the Mahindra, then running on flat tires, to speed past the killing zone as well as a rebel checkpoint.

The convoy was racing up the road to Summit when it met the car of Viga Mayor Emeterio Tarin, then on his way back to the town.

Tarin later said the police convoy was traveling so fast that he and his staff did not notice anything amiss until they were stopped by the heavily-armed communist guerillas at the checkpoint.

Apparently unaware that they were talking with the town’s top official, the rebels sent the mayor’s car was then sent on its way and passed the other NPA checkpoint several hundred meters away.

At the police station in Viga, the chief of police, Senior Inspector Ernesto Montes, scrambled to respond after receiving a report on the inciddnt and used a private vehicle, a Mitsubishi Adventure, owned by SPO1 Erwin Pichuela who also drove it, and proceeded to the site along with SPO2 Bienvenido Trinidad Jr., PO3 Tupue and PO2 Torcelino. On the way, they met the mayor’s car then speeding for the town proper.

Upon reaching the area near Cathy’s Spring Resort, the Adventure was ordered to turn back by heavily-armed NPA rebels at the checkpoint. However, one of the rear tires fell into the ditch at the left side of the road, forcing Montes and his team  to come out of the vehicle, triggering a gunfight lasted for two hours against 20 rebels who used an M203 grenade launcher and assault rifles.

PO3 Tupue and PO2 Torcelino were wounded, along with Montes who was hit at the back. He later said the two fallen lawmen were probably finished off later.

Some relatives of Tupue and other civilians disregarded the danger to their own lives and proceeded to the site, bringing back the bodies of the slain law enforcers one by one. Their long and short firearms were not recovered at the scene.

Joint elements of the PPSC Viga detachment and members of the Bravo Company, 83rd Infantry Battalion (PA) also went to the site and exchanged fire with more or less 40 rebels occupying high ground.

Information from an intelligence network later stated that at around 10 P.M. of the same day, a group of unidentified personalities believed to be NPA combatants were sighted along a river bank at sitio Kinarayan, barangay Juan M. Alberto in San Miguel down, carrying a dead body and a wounded person.

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