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CHR probes ambush of 3 soldiers in Albay



Killed in the ambush were Corporal Joemar Maravilla, Private First Class Ronald Zamora and Private First Class Reymar Palencia.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has started its investigation of the deadly ambush of three soldiers by suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Legazpi City, Albay, over the weekend.
CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said the investigation to be done by its Region 5 office forms part of their mandate to get to the bottom of the incident and possibly identify the killers behind it in the pursuit of justice and truth.
The ambush took place at Purok 2 Extension, Brgy. 66-Banquerohan, Legazpi City, on 17 January 2021.
Killed were Corporal Joemar Maravilla, Private First Class Ronald Zamora and Private First Class Reymar Palencia.
Another soldier identified as Sgt. Ferdinand Ignas was wounded in the attack.
“We send our deepest condolences to the bereaved loved ones of the victims. We condemn acts of senseless violence and hopes that similar atrocities such as this ambush will be put to an end,” De Guia said.
De Guia said while every individual has the absolute right to believe or subscribe to any ideology, the right to act in accordance with one’s belief cannot be absolute.
She explained that individual conduct remains subject to laws and regulations of the State, which may even include prohibition of certain acts for the protection of society.
“Thus, all are called upon to abide by the general principles of International Humanitarian Law and domestic laws of the country—State and non-State forces alike,” de Guia said.
The police and military previously said four motorcycle-riding soldiers who just came from a meeting with the police were ambushed by suspected NPA rebels in Legazpi City.
Three of the four Philippine Army soldiers died while one was wounded in the ambush along the Banquerohan-Bariis Road at about 8:30 a.m. All soldiers were involved in community support programs.
They came from a meeting at the Legazpi City Police Station (LCPS) regarding clearing operations, LCPS officer-in-charge Col. Rodelon Betita, said.
Capt. John Paul Belleza, PA 9th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the fatalities were members of the Army’s 31st Infantry Battalion.
Initial investigation revealed 10 rebels, some also on motorcycles, opened fire at the soldiers using M16 rifles, Belleza said.
“They (soldiers) were in civilian clothes at that time, for security reasons. They were on their way to coordinate the entry of heavy equipment of Sunwest Corporation, which will open a road from Barangay Villahermosa to Bariis. This is a project to help improve the lives of residents,” Belleza said.
Belleza called the attack a desperate move by the NPA to show that the group is still a force to reckon with.
“They’re desperate because the government is winning. Rebels have been surrendering, some killed, hideouts taken down. They were just lucky this time,” Belleza said. 
p: wjg