PNP: Someone may have leaked FDA chief's convoy route

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police is investigating the possibility that information on the route to be taken by the convoy of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Director General Nela Charade Puno was leaked to suspected communist rebels.

The two-vehicle convoy of Puno was ambushed Thursday morning, October 18, in Lupi, Camarines Sur, by around 20 gunmen, whom the PNP suspects are members of the communist rebels New People's Army.

Puno survived the ambush as the suspects managed to hit only the tailing police vehicle. Three cops onboard that vehicle were killed in the attack.

In a chance interview inside Camp Crame in Quezon City, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde was asked whether there was a "failure of intelligence" in the incident.

"That is being investigated, kung bakit despite mga coordination na ganyan or baka mamaya may nag-leak mga ganyang movement. Either may nag-leak 'yan na may ganyang movement, lalong lalo na may VIP na involved," Albayalde said. 

(That is being investigated, despite the coordination like that, or maybe there was a leak. Either someone leaked that there was going to be a movement like that, especially since a VIP was involved.)

According to Albayalde, the advance party from the military which left ahead of Puno's group also passed by Barangay Napolidan in Lupi, Camarines Sur on Thursday morning.

Albayalde did not specify suspects for the leak, but usually only police and military close-ins know the route of a convoy of a high-profile government official like Puno.

Holding the rank of Director General, Puno is considered to have a 4-star general rank just like Albayalde.

It remains unclear, Albayalde said, why suspected NPA rebels would plan for an attack against Puno, but he surmised that the communist guerrillas may be launching "retaliatory attacks" to "show presence" after the Philippine government's talks with Communist insurgents bogged down under President Rodrigo Duterte. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.