Communist NPA rebels seize firearms in Iloilo town attack
ILOILO CITY, Philippines — The heavily armed freedom fighters of the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) raided a municipal Philippine National Police (PNP) station in Municipality of Maasin in Iloilo province on Sunday morning, June 18, taking at least 12 weapons, including eight high-powered rifles.
Ni ether a single shot was fired nor a nine police personnel was harmed in Maasin, 31 kilometers northwest of this capital city, a day after 428 soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Infantry Battalion based here were deployed to boost the Armed Forces of the Philippines military troops battling terrorists and extremists in Marawi City.
The NPA rebels, numbering between 40 and 50 including women freedom fighters, took eight M-16 rifles and nine Glock 9-mm pistols, according to Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Western Visayas PNP director.
According to a report, three NPA revolutionist, including two women, first entered the local police station at around 10:30 A.M. and pretended to be a local residents of Maasin who were filing a complaint. Several other NPA rebels then rushed to the police station from the back door, Binag said.
Other NPA associates who came on board an ELF truck surrounded the municipal police station beside the Maasin public market. The nine policemen were then commanded by the rebels to lie down and handcuffed.
One rebel, using a megaphone, told the local residents of Maasin to stay calm as they raided the police station just for the firearms. The operation was instantaneous and only lasted for over in 15 minutes, according to the Western Visayas PNP director.
Binag censured the aforementioned attack and said that the nine police personnel would file robbery complaints against the NPA rebels after they also seized a patrol car, radio, two laptop and personal belongings including Php25,000 of cash and jewelry.
The Maasin PNP patrol car and the truck were recovered later in the neighboring town of Alimodian.
The NPA Coronacion Chiva Command issued a statement through their Facebook Page claiming that a unit of the NPA Napoleon Tumagtang Command carried out the attack in Maasin.
Its spokesperson, Ka Julio Montana, accused the municipal police unit of force extortion. The police in Maasin allegedly extorting from small vendors and allowing the proliferation of illegal drugs and gambling.
Moreover, the attack was also in response to the “all-out war” of the PNP and military against the rebels, according to Montana.
Binag directed the immediate relief of the entire 23-member of police force of Maasin. He said they would be investigated for possible failure.
Meanwhile, the Maasin Municipal Mayor Mariano Malones said this was the very first time that the NPA rebels attacked the town center. — WITH REPORTS FROM JOHN JULIUS MANALO, JOVELYN GAMIT AND MARTHA SORIANO.