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ONLY HOURS after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared an autarchic ceasefire for the Holiday Season, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) staged again a daring ambush in Palawan that killed three elements of the Philippines Marines Corms (PMC) under the Marine Battalion Landing Team 9 (MBLT).

Western Command (WESCOM) commander Commodore Ruperto C. Borromeo in a phone interview said the Marines were ambushed by communist guerillas on the morning (around 7:30 a.m.) of December 16 at a rural community called Binga in the municipality of San Vicente in northern Palawan.

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The body of one of the three dead Marines is loaded in a PAF rescue helicopter to be brought to Puerto Princesa.

Apparently, the Marines were on their way to get food and other supplies from a nearby marketplace.

In a media conference called immediately at the WESCOM, the military said the ambush group was composed of 20 heavily-armed rebels led by wanted CPP-NPA leader Gilbert Silagan.

The three Marines were reportedly wearing civilian clothes and were unarmed when they were waylaid by the CPP-NPA.

Last September, an ambush also staged by the leftist group at Sitio Double Line, Barangay Ibangley, Taytay killed two innocent children and PO2 Saturnino Lazo. Since the incident, the WESCOM has been on a vigorous campaign to arrest Silagan and a woman rebel who goes by the alias Alma Moreno.

Advertisements were placed by WESCOM in weekly newspapers in the province for any information leading to their arrests. A bounty was offered too to anyone who can give information regarding their whereabouts.

In Manila, a story from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) said Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Ariel Caculitan disclosed that because of the incident, they have instructed all troops in the country “not to be complacent with their security despite a ceasefire that’s in effect.”

He was quoted in saying that the CPP-NPA did not reciprocate the good gesture of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which is supposed to be for the spirit of Christmas.

Caculitan said the rebels “should have exercised restraint in attacking the soldiers, noting that they were in civilian clothes and unarmed.

Meanwhile, Commodore Ruperto Rico C. Borromeo, commander of the Western Command, said they will be more vigilant against the CPP-NPA in Palawan following what happened.

On December 26, the CPP-NPA is celebrating its 39th founding anniversary. It is not clear if the ambush was a prelude to its celebration.

Manhunt operations have already been ordered to look for the armed rebels who staged the ambush, WESCOM said. (see http://thepalawantimes.wordpress.com/)

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