SEIZED. The firearms and explosives, cash, and other items seized from four officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) who were arrested in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on July 10, 2020. Maj. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, on Tuesday (July 14, 2020) called their arrest a huge blow to the communist-terrorist group. (Photo courtesy of the 15th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – A top official of the Philippine Army considered the arrest of four suspected rebels in Negros Occidental as a “huge blow” to the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Maj. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID) and the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Force Spear in Western and Central Visayas, said on Tuesday the successful law enforcement operation was an essential part of the government campaign to end the violence and terrorism perpetrated by the communist-terrorist group.

Arrested by joint military and police troops in Barangay Magballo, Kabankalan City on July 10 were Emmylou Cañares, 38, a resident of South Poblacion, San Fernando, Cebu; George Buga-ay, 42, of Barangay Punta Taytay, Bacolod City; Relyn Morino, 22, a resident of Barangay Orong, Kabankalan City; and Raffy Patajo, 21, of Sitio Montelo, Barangay Pinggot, Ilog, also in Negros Occidental.

According to the Philippine Army, Cañares is the current secretary of the Second National Urban Center Party Committee while Buga-ay, a former squad leader and finance logistics officer of the Regional Strike Forces of the Kilusang Rehiyon – Negros (KR-N), is now with the KR-N Regional Communication (RCOM), along with Morino and Patajo.

In a statement, NPA Apolinario Gatmaitan Command spokesman Juanito Magbanua denied the four are CPP-NPA officials.

Maj. Cenon Pancito III, chief of 3ID’s Public Affairs Office, said he was not surprised by Magbanua’s denial since the communist-terrorists are masters at making excuses.

 “If indeed, they believe that these people are not their allies, then they should condemn them for violating the laws and condemn them for terrorizing the people,” he added.

Pancito said now that the CPP-NPA is “crippled by the series of combined operations against their group, they know what this government can do to paralyze their movement.”

During their arrest, the four suspected rebels yielded a .45-caliber pistol, .38-caliber revolver loaded with five rounds of ammunition, and four hand grenades, along with several mobile phones USB flash drives, and cash amounting to PHP119,354, among others.

Cañares and Morino are facing charges for violation of Republic Act 10591, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, and RA 9516 or Illegal Possession of Explosives; Buga-ay, for RA 10591; and Patajo, for RA 9516. (PNA)

15 NPA rebels yield in SoCot, Sarangani

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Fifteen more New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered to government authorities in South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces on Monday, a police official said.

Lt. Col. Lino Capellan, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 12 (Soccsksargen), said Tuesday the rebels separately yielded, along with several firearms and explosives, to police and Army personnel following a series of negotiations.

Capellan said nine of the former NPA combatants, who were former members of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73, surrendered in South Cotabato and six in Sarangani.

In South Cotabato, he said the returnees were received by officials of the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office in Koronadal City.

The surrender was facilitated by the 1st and 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC), 42nd Special Action Company, Army’s 12th Special Forces Company, Army’s 40th infantry Battalion, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency 12, Regional Intelligence Unit 12, and the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) 12.

“It was an offshoot of the series of community outreach activities these past weeks spearheaded by the PMFC in parts of the province,” Capellan said, citing the “Adopt an Indigent Family” and “Kapwa Ko, Sagot Ko” programs.

He said the initiative includes lectures on President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70, which institutionalizes the “whole-of-nation” approach as a strategy to end the local communist armed conflict.

The surrenderers gave up an Ingram submachine gun, an improvised M203 grenade launcher, an improvised 12-gauge pistol, a homemade single-shot pistol, a caliber .22 improvised pistol, an improvised 12-gauge shotgun, fragmentation grenade, assorted bullets, and subversive documents.

In Sarangani, Capellan said the six returnees, who were also under the NPA’s Front 73, separately yielded in Barangay Katubao, Kiamba town and Barangay Lumasal in Maasim.

They were received by elements of the 1204th Mobile Company, RIU-12, RID-12, Sarangani Police Provincial Office, and the Army’s 37IB.

He said the rebel returnees turned over a caliber .45 pistol, caliber .357 revolver, caliber .22 revolver, caliber .32 Magnum revolver, caliber .22 rifle, a blood pressure apparatus, and Baofeng handheld radio.

Brig. Gen. Michael John Dubria, PRO-12 director, said the accomplishment was the result of collective efforts of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, local government units, and other stakeholders.

“We assure everyone that the PRO-12, under my command, will continue to intensify efforts to safeguard the welfare of the public and ensure peace and stability in our communities,” Dubria said. (PNA)