Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Discrepancy Of Sorts

In the aftermath of the failed April 28, 2011 assault by New People's Army rebels on the Lianga police station, there were more than a few residents here in Lianga (myself included) who were having quite a difficulty getting a direct and categorical answer to one important question. How many policemen and soldiers were actually inside the station when the attack occurred in the early dawn of that fateful Thursday morning?

I was there shortly after guns had ceased firing and the insurgents, numbering at least 30 or so, had already withdrawn and fled back up the hilly terrain at the back of the municipal hall beside the police station. In minutes they were nowhere to be seen but had left behind one of their comrades (later identified by the military authorities as a ranking vice-commander of the local guerrilla front unit)who was eventually captured by government troops.

What was clear from insider reports in the aftermath of the botched dawn raid was that only eight policemen and two army troopers were involved in the actual defense of the police station. Eleven if we include the utility worker, Rodel Aquilam, who became an instant local celebrity because his decision to remain at his post and help the policemen and soldiers repulse the NPA attackers.

Yet a few days later, fifteen policemen plus the two soldiers and the utility worker were all awarded medals for bravery and gallantry by no less than Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Philippine National Police Director General Raul Bacalso. The award included cash awards and the promise of eventual spot promotions.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


There is probably nothing more disconcerting to an ordinary person than waking up suddenly in the darkness of early dawn to the thunder of gunfire and the loud explosions of what can only be an honest to goodness, full fledged war going on just a short distance from his home. But that is what exactly happened to me early Thursday morning.

As I tried to shake off then the lingering effects of an interrupted sleep, it became immediately clear to me that Lianga was again being attacked by New People Army rebel forces and that for the fourth time in its long and colorful history, the police station beside the town hall in the center of the poblacion was once more bearing the brunt of what could only be a determined assault by guerrilla insurgents.

I quickly joined many of the townspeople who were anxiously peering out of their windows and even huddled with the more fearless folk who had the guts to go out into the streets and peer around street corners in order to find out what was really going on. The din of the fierce fighting lasted for at least an hour. It has just past 5 o' clock when the first shots were fired and by 6 AM the town center was still echoing from the rhythmic thumping and loud cracking of rifle and machine gun fire as a small group of some nine policemen and army soldiers fought off some thirty rebels who had launched their attack from the hills on the western side of Lianga.