A POLICE officer and three suspected rebels were killed in an encounter between alleged members of the communist group and police detachment in Barangay Manay-New Malitbog Boundary, Panabo City, prompting the city government to place nearby areas under heightened alert.
Police Regional office-Davao Director Manuel Gaerlan said the suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) tried to attack but failed to take the second platoon of Davao del Norte Provincial Public Safety Company patrol, based in Panabo City at around 8:13 a.m. Friday, June 23.
The exchange of fire with undetermined number of rebels claimed the life of Senior Police Officer (SPO) 1 Niño Moreño.
He was wounded and brought to Carmen District Hospital for immediate treatment but the attending physician pronounced him dead at 10:35 a.m.
The cadaver of Moreño was later transferred to Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City.
The skirmishes ended around 9 a.m. when the rebels withdrew. Three rebels were killed by the joint efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police after pursuing the attackers at the vicinity of the Municipality of Carmen.
Gaerlan, meanwhile, lauded the bravery of the police officers for their quick response against the lawless armed group before they could endanger the lives of innocent civilians.
He also condemned the act of the NPA saying that, “the treacherous manner of assassination of SPO1 Niño Moreño more than an hour after the NPA failed to overrun the detachment out of desperation. That is plain and simple murder.”
Meanwhile, Panabo City Information Office said Manay Elementary School is placed under lockdown while nearby upland barangays were on heightened alert to ensure the safety of the communities.
After the area was cleared, the students and faculty of affected barangays Manay and Malitbog Elementary and High School returned home safely.
The army urged the public to refrain from spreading false information pertaining to the location of the armed group.
The army also belied that there were civilians, who were taken as hostages.
Panabo City has also issued a local executive order 41 suspending all the classes of schools in the north and south cluster barangays for public safety and security.
“There is a need to declare cancellation of classes in all preschool elementary, and secondary schools in barangays thereof in order to spare pupils and students from risk/danger that would affect their lives an limbs,” the executive order read.
Mayor James Gamao asked for the cooperation of the citizens, saying, “The continuing threat of unidentified armed individuals within the City of Panabo, particularly in the recent incident of harassment in one of the police detachment caused fear among the constituents of the city.”