MANILA, Philippines — Acting Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar is urging police commanders on the ground to strengthen police-community relations.
Eleazar made the call after the communist New People’s Army (NPA) on Friday ambushed elements of the 2nd Camarines Norte Police Provincial Mobile Force Company in Labo, Camarines Norte. Five police officers were killed and two others were hurt in the attack.
Eleazar thinks the ambush was planned and was executed with the help of local residents. This, he said, is a signal that the PNP needs to get closer with the community.
“Bata pa lang ako sa Tagkawayan, nababalitaan ko na yung mga ambush ng NPA sa ating mga kasundaluhan at sa mga pulis. Ako mismo, bilang police commander ay namatayan na rin ng mga tauhan, mga kapatid sa serbisyo dahil sa communist insurgency,” Eleazar said.
“Ngayon, nangyari na naman ito kung saan namatayan tayo ng limang kapatid sa serbisyo. Huwag na nating hayaan na paulit-ulit pang mangyari ito in the future. Tapusin na natin ito dahil hindi lang tayo sa PNP, sa AFP ang naapektuhan nito kundi ang ating bansa, ang taumbayan na napeperhuwisyo sa mga pag-atakeng ito,” he added.
In his visit to Camarines Norte, Eleazar handed financial assistance to the wounded officers and to the bereaved families of those killed in the ambush. The assistance was made possible by Sinas and Police Regional Office 5 Regional Director Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bustamante.
The Information Bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Sunday confirmed that the ambush was staged by the NPA. The attack, said the NPA, was in response to the PNP’s simultaneous anti-criminality law enforcement operations or SACLEO.
Eleazar said it is important that local residents are engaged in the fight against the NPA. He cited as an example, information relayed to the police by residents about the presence of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Bohol.
“But it was the local residents who tipped the police about the presence of armed men in their community. Our local police force, after confirming the report, immediately coordinated with the AFP and the National Headquarters to mobilize the necessary manpower to run after the ASG,” Eleazar explained.
“And we all know the result, the ASG members who went to Bohol were either killed or arrested, even before they could find comfort in that province. So this is something that we want to replicate in communities with NPA presence, if we succeed in winning the trust and confidence of the people in the community, sila na mismo ang makikipagtulungan upang panatilihing tahimik at maunlad ang kanilang mga komunidad,” he added.
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