By any measure, the tragic demise of the leader of the 6-man team on a mission to serve a warrant of arrest to a fugitive disturbing, unchristian, and unpardonable
Technically an ambush and not an encounter, it truly manifests utter lack of the observance of universally accepted rules of engagement between clashing forces.
That is, between the PNP and the New People’s Army which refuses to be considered terrorists inspire their propensity, without an iota of conscience, to inflict pain, torture in their terroristic attacks against government forces.
The arresting 6-man team led by PSMS by John de la Cruz Teston was on their withdrawing move from negative findings, when allegedly, a 15-man NPA fully armed men staged an ambush hitting and torturing in the process the lone fatality in the person of the late PSMS Teston.
Accordingly, the other 5 PNP men scampered to safety and was able to find sanctuary in the house of the punong barangay. Fortunately, the attacking insurgents did not razed the leader’s residence due to the presence of civilians apparently the family of the barangay leader.
Again, this 15-year old crusading community newspaper is constrained to asks the following questions: (1) Where the arresting team did not consider their relative safety knowing that sitio Tucao, Barangay Juan M. Alberto is an NPA infested area?, (2) Was there a mole ( read: tipster). (3) Were the PNP men remained lax on their safety and security due to clearing operation in area by the Philippine Army?
One point to consider here is the fact two men residing in that far-flung area were the subject of their warrant of arrest serving mission.
Not only that. Reliable source said the PNP asset in the area was burnout and forced by the insurgents to divulge the mission of the policemen. Our reliable source further said the former PNP asset spelled the beans so to speak for fear of dear life and family.
The PNP leadership and personnel in Region 5 absolutely condemned said ambush with impunity and vowed to provide assistance and justice, if not avenged their fallen man in uniform.
Hurting as it may seem for the loss of their comrade, Lt. Colonel de la Pena hailed Teston as a hero, for saving in the end five of his men who have respective families to attend to.
Let’s hope and pray that this incident be given due focus and justice. Let’s hope and pray that the Happy Island of Catanduanes be spared from being branded as a “killing field” what with the series of unsolved murder cases we have had in the past.