>A police escort of Arteche town mayor Rolando Evardone – Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone’s cousin – was killed while four other people were hurt in an ambush allegedly staged by communist-led New People’s Army rebels on Saturday.
Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz, Philippine National Police spokesman, said in a text message that a group of NPA rebels attacked the mayor’s convoy at about 11:20 a.m. while it was at Sitio Subok in Barangay Tangbo, Arteche town.
Authorities identified the lone fatality as Police Inspector Al Lianza Tantiado, while the other police escorts injured in the attack included PO1 Kenneth Tapalla and PO1 Sherwen Tajado.
A civilian motorist, Noe Opepario, was also hurt after being caught in the crossfire. The fourth wounded victim was not identified.
The rebels carted away three long and loaded firearms belonging to the escorts.
The mayor and other civilian escorts were unharmed, the PNP spokesman said.
Rep. Evardone condemned the “barbaric” attack in a text message to reporters, insisting that “[t]he mayor and the police were just doing their duty to stop illegal gambling.”
Members of the Army’s 14th and 18th Infantry Battalion, as well as local PNP forces have already launched manhunt operations.—Mark D. Merueñas/JV,