LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET: Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde on Saturday pinned a medal award to a wounded police officer for fighting a group of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Bauko, Mountain Province, while 15 PNP officers from Northern Samar will be given recognition on Monday.

Albayalde visited Police Corporal Eirphil Lapniten in Benguet General Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment to confer him the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting.

The 1502nd Mobile Company of the Regional Mobile Force-15, to which Lapniten belongs, fought against some 20 communist rebels in Barangay Bagnen Proper on Friday.

The encounter, which lasted for about 15 minutes, happened while Albayalde was attending a command conference in Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad in Benguet for the upcoming midterm elections.

The other wounded police officer, Patrolman Pat Wilfredo Padawil, was declared dead on arrival at the Luis Hora Memorial Regional Hospital from multiple gunshot wounds during the encounter.

Lapniten was teary-eyed upon receiving the medal and cash assistance from Albayalde’s office and the Office of the President. He told Albayalde that he was wounded on the left side of his neck from an alleged sniper.

Albayalde also expressed his condolences to Padawil’s family for their loss.

“The whole PNP forwards their condolences and we know that this police officer is a hero. He sacrificed his life for the freedom and for the people,” Albayalde said.

Hewas set to visit Paddawil’s in Sagada, Mountain Province.

Meanwhile, Albayalde earlier announced that the 15 police officers of Victoria Municipal Police Station led by Police Lt. Eladio Alo would be awarded this Monday at the flag ceremony in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

The Victoria Municipal Police Station in Northern Samar was attacked by about 50 NPA rebels on March 28.

The firefight led to the death of two rebels and the arrest of one of them.

Two of the officers, Police Master Sgts. Arturo Gordo Jr. and Arnold Cabacang, will receive the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting. They were wounded during the three-hour firefight against about 50 NPA rebels.

Albayalde said the Victoria firefight was “one of the best success stories in the history of the PNP.”

Police Col. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesman, told reporters in a text message that they were still evaluating who will receive a promotion after the incident, saying it would be based on their purpose and performance during the actual firefight.

ROY D.R. NARRA (The Manila Times)