Davao del Sur, Philippines – Last Wednesday, 08 March 2017, an ambush left four police officers dead and another injured in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. Police and military authorities suspect New People’s Army (NPA) rebels to be behind the ambush.
This comes a day after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that back-channel talks with the rebel group have started, with the possibility that earlier stalled negotiations would resume.
Davao del Sur police chief, Senior Supt. Samuel Gadingan, said that the four slain policemen were part of a team from Bansalan who came along with the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) provincial office. The group was headed for the Hinterland Village in Barangay Sibayan in Bansalan to investigate a murder. The ambush happened at 600H.
The policemen killed were identified as: P.O.1 Rolly Belayo, P.O.1 Joe Narvasa, P.O.1 Saro Mangutara, and P.O.3 Jayden Rabor; the injured was P.O.3 Allen Arnado.
Lt. Col. Marion Angcao, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 73rd Infantry Battalion, said that NPA rebels were likely behind the ambush, as it is the only armed group operating in the area. Prior to the ambush, NPA rebels were spotted near the barangay where the shooting occurred. The ambush is suspected to be a retaliation for an armed clash last month in the same area, which felled a major NPA encampment.
Troops from adjacent military battalions have been deployed to intercept the suspects.