On its way back to the provincial headquarters to undergo an ECG test which is a compulsory part of their annual physical examination, a truckload of Special Action Forces members of the Philippine National Police was ambushed on Monday morning, May 27 in Barangay Cataratan, Allacapan, Cagayan.
The unsuspecting peace officers were caught surprised when the truck they were in hit a landmine and blew them up in various directions at about 8:30 a.m. Then an estimated 30 armed NPAs showed up to finish them off.
Cagayan Valley police director Chief Supt. Rodrigo de Gracia disclosed 8 members of the elite SAF of the PNP were killed. And Cagayan Valley police spokesperson Inspector Cesar Orlanes said 7 other SAF members sustained injuries and were dispatched to Ballesteros Municipal Hospital.
The ambush occurred just two kilometers from the Cagayan provincial police headquarters.
Police identified the fatalities by their last names: PO3 Tabarejo, PO2 Pinated, PO2 Cubilla, PO1 Brioso, PO2 Mateo, PO1 Sanchez and PO2 Bowat. Another cop, PO2 Ronald Castulo, was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Seven other SAF troopers were seriously wounded and were identified as PO2 Gomez, PO1 Dolete, PO2 Adangi, PO1 Asunio, PO2 Monay, PO2 Amilagan and PO2 Dalwidao.
They all sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
Chief Supt Rodrigo de Gracia, regional police director, condemned the attack and the use of landmines as treacherous
The government peace panel assigned to hold talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the guerrillas, condemned the attack:
"We maintain that the use of landmines by the NPA (New People's Army) is a gross violation of Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law,and Other Crimes Against Humanity as well as the Ottawa Protocol banning the use of landmines," the panel said in a statement.
"By its insistence on using landmines and its insistence on continuing a regime of violence instead of talking peace, the NPA turns a blind eye to the clamor of our people for a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict," it added.
Talks between the 2 sides broke down shortly before the May 13 elections. The NDF is accusing the government of negotiating in bad faith. But the government peace panel said the NDF has set tough conditions for the peace process to move.
The peace process aims to end 40 years of communist insurgency.
The flags in Cagayan are flown at half-mast to give due honors to the fallen peace officers.