PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte on Saturday conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu, Rank of Kalasag on four policemen killed in an alleged ambush by members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Ayungon, Negros Oriental on July 18. Malacañang also announced on Sunday that the President has put up a P1 million reward for the capture of the main perpetrators and P50,000 for conspirators in the incident. The slain policemen were Corporal Relebert Beronio, Patrolman Raffy Callao, Patrolman Ruel Cabellon, and Patrolman Marquino de Leon. According to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), the four were intelligence personnel from the 704th Mobile Force Company Regional Mobile Force Battalion of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Central Visayas. “Based on the initial report of the PNP, the policemen were verifying the reported presence of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Mabato in Ayungon town when they were attacked. Their firearms were taken by the rebels and the motorcycles they were using went missing,” the PCOO said.

For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement: “According to the Chief Executive, a PhP1 million reward will be given for the capture, whether dead or alive, of the masterminds, perpetrators, and main shooters of the four police intel personnel. A PhP50,000 reward, on the other hand, will be given for the capture, of all the conspirators involved in this felonious activity.” He added that the government will ensure that “justice will be served to those behind this condemnable offense against our peace enforcers.” He added, “The full force of the law will come crushing down on the perpetrators.” The Order of Lapu-Lapu is given to individuals in government or private sector who have rendered extraordinary service or have made exceptional contributions to the success of the administration’s advocacies. The Kalasag Medal is awarded to officials and personnel of the government and private individuals who died as a result of their participation in an activity pursuant to the Duterte administration’s campaigns or advocacies. — Arjay L. Balinbin