The Commission on Human Rights in Davao region condemned the ambush of police officers in Bansalan, Davao del Sur on Wednesday, March 8 that killed four policemen and injured another.
CHR-11 also expressed sympathies and condolences to the victims and their families.
“We will continue to work with the authorities in order that the full force of the law will be applied against the persons responsible for these human rights violations,” the CHR-11 said.
The agency added that it is currently conducting its own investigation and is continuously monitoring the developments related to the incident.
President Duterte and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa already paid a visit to the families of the victims in Bansalan on Thursday.
The President also awarded the Medalya ng Kagalingan, a PNP merit medal, to the victims for their “acts of conspicuous courage and gallantry in action rendered to the PNP while responding in the report of shooting incident at Brgy. Sibayan, Bansalan.”
“I’m sorry that this gory incident had to happen,” President Duterte told reporters during the visit as he emphasized that peace talks with the NPA rebels and their leaders nowadays is totally absent.
He also ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP to go on with the military offensives.
“Go ahead, wage a war against them. Anything goes. I will allow the military and the Police this time to use all available assets,” President Duterte stressed.
Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas was also present during the President’s visit and condemned the killing of four police officers.
The provincial government and the local government unit of Bansalan also provided financial support to the families of the victims.
NPA justifies ambush
The Regional Operations Command of the NPAs in Southern Mindanao Region owned up to the ambush-slaying of four policemen in Bansalan.
Rigoberto F. Sanchez, spokesperson of NPA-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command commended the successful tactical offensive by a platoon of NPA rebels belonging to the Mt. Apo Subregional Operations Command in what he described as a “15-minute ambush” in Barangay Sibayan, Bansalan town.
Sanchez said they were in anticipation of police and military operations to be coordinated by the 39th Infantry Battalion after the same unit of NPAs successfully carried out an order to exact revolutionary justice at around 2:20 a.m. last March 8 against Marlon Lomantas, a former soldier who turned as an active intelligence agent of 39th IB.
Lomantas, Sanchez alleged, was also a known drug trader and user in Barangay Sibayan.
NPA forces were also positioned at the mountainside of Barangay Sibayan in order to frustrate military and police operations, he added.
He said that at 6:15 a.m., heavily armed police personnel aboard two mobile PNP vehicles were dispatched, apparently to reconnoiter and clear the area before deploying its soldiers.
The first police vehicle was allowed by the rebels to pass as civilians riding in motorcycles were in close proximity to the vehicle, and at 7:10 a.m., the second police vehicle passed and was ambushed by the positioned NPA forces, Sanchez said.
“After the initial five-second volley of gunshots, the NPA commander called for the enemy troops to surrender and lay down their arms. The PNP personnel, however, retaliated with numerous return of fire. A wounded police officer jumped off from the vehicle. It took ten minutes of an exchange of fire before the NPA squad succeeded in subduing the PNP unit,” he added.
Sanchez also hit the PNP leaders for peddling “dubious line and outrageously melodramatic declaration that the PNP unit was a non-tactical police team overwhelmed by a superfluous NPA force.”
He said the PNP pronouncement was an attempt to cover-up the fact that an armed PNP unit on offensive operation was effectively neutralized by the NPAs.
After the incident, Sanchez said the Army’s 73rd IB supported by the PNP Regional Public Safety Battalion, PNP Special Action Force and the 39th IB are now conducting military operations in the area.