Tough mama led counterattack on rebels

By Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Friday, August 31st, 2012

She first secured her baby in her cot and then, armed with an M-16 Armalite rifle, Senior Insp. Charity Galvez led 24 of her men in beating off a communist rebel attack on their police station in Agusan del Sur last year.

“Maybe they underestimated our station because its commander was a woman. They were mistaken,” said Galvez.

Galvez, who barely escaped with her life after a sniper’s bullet grazed her hair during the attack by 250 New People’s Army rebels, was recognized as one of the Top Ten Outstanding Policewomen of the Philippines (TOPWP) in ceremonies at Camp Crame Thursday.

“I’m lucky. I feel that this award is important. I’m happy that our accomplishments were recognized,” she said.

Undersecretary Austere Panadero of the Department of the Interior and Local Government led the TOPWP awarding rites.

‘Women have gone far’

“This shows that women have gone far in our organization. While only 15 percent of the 140,000 members of the PNP are women, this is much better than what we had years ago,” said Panadero.

The other awardees were P/Supt. Mary Leocy J. Mag-abo; Chief Insp. Claire B. Cudal; Senior Inspectors Arlene T. Abastillas, Cheryll Balderama, Ma. Theresa T. Macatangay; SP03 Rhia B. Sotomil, P03 Rochelle G. Bakingkito; and P02 Liza P. Maldo.

Recalling the attack on the police station of Trento, Agusan del Sur, on July 30, 2011, Galvez said it began with a loud explosion at about 5 a.m.

“I didn’t think of escaping with my child because we were already surrounded. We had to fight. I just made sure (the baby) was secure with our helper,” she said.

Galvez said her daughter, who was one year and nine months old, was traumatized by the firefight.

“After the attack, she was hospitalized because she wouldn’t eat. She kept saying, ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’” she said.

Galvez said she fired back at the rebels using her cal. 40 pistol but when a colleague was wounded, she took his Armalite rifle.

“I opened the door to go outside and maybe their sniper saw me and took a shot. I’m not saying that the sniper wasn’t good but I was able to take cover behind some tires and (the bullet) just grazed my hair,” Galvez said.

“The firefight lasted for more than an hour. It was really hard because the firing was continuous. But with God’s intervention, we prevailed and defended our station,” she said.

Galvez said the rebels eventually withdrew, perhaps realizing they could not breach the police station’s defenses.

Another TOPWP awardee recognized during Thursday’s ceremony was Chief Insp. Claire B. Cudal, who was once an aide-de-camp to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She was recognized for helping bring down crime in the tough neighborhoods of Quiapo and Tondo, Manila.


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