Issue of April 7, 2019
Mt. Province

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Wounded cop recalls ordeal in Bauko
by Ofelia C. Empian

HONORED -- Police Corporal Irpeel Lapniten, one of the wounded cops during a skirmish between government forces and communist rebels in Mountain Province, was conferred the “Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting” by Police General Oscar Albayalde and PRO-Cor Director, B/Gen. Ephraim Dickson, who has been in Mountain Province to supervise the pursuit operation against the rebels. At least two policemen and several others were wounded since March 29.
-- Ofelia Empian/PRO-Cor photo

Police Corporal Irpeel Lapniten was supposed to give the award of his daughter, who was a top student in her class last April 1, but plans changed as he was at the hospital resting from the wounds he sustained from the firefight against the New People’s Army in Bauko, Mountain Province recently.

It was just a 15-minute firefight between the 1502nd Maneuver Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion-15 and the rebels but it turned fatal as two policemen were hit – Lapniten, who was wounded, and Patrolman Patrick Padawil, who died while being treated of his wounds.

The incident that happened at 9:30 a.m. of March 29 at Mt. Kapuwaw in Bagnen, Bauko was the first of a series of gun battles that happened last week between the government troops and the rebels. 

“We were scouring the area for possible sightings of the CNN then we heard two shots we then fired back at them and then suddenly I felt my shoulder begin to get heavy, that was when I knew I was hit,” said Lapniten of Buguias, Benguet.

CNN stands for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to refer to the rebel group.

The 31-year-old cop and his troopmates were about to head down after a reconnaissance mission in Mt. Kapuwaw when snipers from the rebel group took chance on them. 

He said while firing back at the rebels, they looked for cover to treat his wounds and Padawil, who at that time was already unconscious.

“Tinanong ako ng team leader ko kung kaya ko pa, sinabi ko ‘kaya pa sir, mamamatay muna ako bago niyo ako i-extract kaya ipinagpatuloy pa namin,” he said.

After the firefight, he said he stayed in the area for security while the others went after the rebels. 

“Of course I couldn’t help but be emotional and was nervous at the time and it was hard because we were a very close knit siblings; he almost brushed death,” said Karen Bosaing, the sister of the wounded cop.

They recalled the incident while waiting for PNP Chief General Oscar Albayalde to personally pin the award to Lapniten.

Albayalde pinned the wounded personnel medal on Lapniten and encouraged him to continue his service to the country.

Albayalde was earlier in Camp Bado Dangwa, home of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera, for a command conference in relation to the May 13 elections when he was informed during the meeting of the ongoing gun battle of the NPAs with the police force.

He said the military has provided reinforcement for the police force in pursuing the rebels. 

Padawil was also posthumously given the Medalya ng Kadakilaan by the regional police office in his hometown in Sagada, Mountain Province during his burial witnessed by his parents, family and the community.

Albayalde said the wounded and slain cops will be given assistance for their needs. Padawil was provided with death benefits, insurance and assistance from the Office of the President.

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