A ranking communist leader was arrested at her residence in a remote village in Tinambac town in Camarines Sur province.
Army Capt. John Paul Belleza, 9th Infantry Division public affairs chief, identified the rebel leader as Marilou Pascual Tan, secretary of the Komiteng Probinsiya 2 of the New People’s Army’s Bicol Regional Party Committee.
A joint military-police raiding team armed with a warrant of arrest swooped down on her house at 2:15 a.m. in Barangay San Roque.
The military considered the rebel leader as a high-value insurgent (HVI). Recovered from her possession were anti-personnel mines, a hand grenade, a .38-caliber handgun, wires, a battery, and propaganda materials.
The suspect, who is facing charges for frustrated murder, was turned over to the town police station for custody. She will be presented to a local court handling her case soon.
She did not resist arrest. She is lucky to be alive.
For the past two weeks, emotions were running high with the death of 21 year-old Rochelle Mae Bacalso alias Ruth/Justine/Kenlyn Mark, said to be a fresh-recruit of the CPP-NPA-NDF in Kananga, Leyte, and the killing of Jevilyn Cullamat alias Reb, the youngest daughter of a Bayan Muna partylist representative in Congress, in an encounter with the military in Marihatag, Surigao.
Both young women, were abandoned by their comrades to die.
Two NPAs killed
Many miles away, Major General Henry Robinson of Joint Task Force Bicolandia, fumed at this predicament, saying “Sinong matinong tao ang kayang iwan ang kaniyang naghihingalong kasamahan? This only proves the real face of the CTG— manggagamit!”
Maj. Gen. Robinson, moved by the death of two NPAs, Alex Mapula and Reynaldo Palmiano, in a series of armed encounters with Robinson’s 9th Infantry “Spear” Division, in Sorsogon province, ordered some assistance sent to their respective families.
As Alex’s father welcomed the general’s representatives, tears streamed down the cheeks of his father, begging the other communist terrorists to come down from the mountains and avail of the various programs the government has for them instead of suffering the same fate like his son.
“Sa mga NPA, dapat magbagong-buhay na sila dahil naririnig ko sa balita na tinutulungan sila ng gobyerno upang maka pagsimula muli ng bagong buhay,” he said as Mapula’s mother was at loss of words to describe the heartbreak of burying her son.
“Sa mga NPA, sana po huwag na silang magrecruit para hindi na maulit kasi mahirap kung may mangyayari [gaya nito]. Mabuti na lang kung tutulong sila eh hindi naman, she said.
According to them, they have no idea that Alex, who was then a construction worker in Marikina City, already joined the New Peoples Army. A few days before his death, Alex’s daughter had just given birth to her first child whom he would never laid eyes on.
Negatively affected by the pandemic and the calamities that hit Bicol, the Mapulas had to borrow money just to give him decent burial services as the CTG did not even bother to assist them at the time they needed help.
It also angered them that Alex’s supposedly comrades simply left him alone to die as they scampered off in retreat. They never thought that the Army that their son had considered his adversary, would be the one coming to support them at their hour of grief.
“Malaking pasasalamat ko sa mga kasundaluhan sa tulong na naibahagi nila sa amin,” she said.
Isidro and Tania Palmiano also shared the same sentiments after their brother, Reynaldo was brought home lifeless.
“Talagang masama ang loob ko sa nangyari sa kapatid ko tapos wala namang naitulong ang NPA. Walang magandang naidulot ang pag-recruit sa kaniya. Tiisin na lang namin ang nangyari na namatay siya kasi wala na kaming magagawa,” they added.
Aside from them, the family of another Communist Terrorist Group member who was also killed in a separate encounter in Sorsogon, received the same assistance from the Philippine Army.
Rooting from another report made by the residents about illegal terrorist activities in their community, Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) began after the typhoons with another successful military operation in Irosin town.
As a result, one M16 rifle was captured in an armed clash between the elements of 22nd Infantry Battalion (22IB) and about ten members of the CTG around 8 o’clock in the evening in Barangay Gulang-gulang, Irosin, Sorsogon, last November 23.
Prior to this, 22IB under Lt. Col. Nelson Mico conducted a security operation to verify the report of the residents from the said Barangay about the on-going extortion and recruitment activities of the CTGs.
Following operational procedures and moving under the cover of darkness, operating troops spotted and engaged the enemies resulting in a fierce firefight forcing the terrorists to scamper and withdraw in different directions leaving their dead comrade behind. No one was harmed in the government side.
Also captured from the encounter site were six anti-personnel mines, commercial radios, 50-meter electrical wire and backpack.
Lt. Col. Mico lauded the persistence of his troops but gave back the credits to the residents, especially the parents of the minors the CTG’s were trying to recruit, “We thank the residents of Irosin for their cooperation manifested through their refusal to condone the atrocities of this terrorist group particularly their urge to deceive the youth sector.”
To this, Maj. Gen. Robinson, rallied the Bicolanos, not to allow the communist terrorists to deceive any of them, “Joining their useless cause will only ruin your life and the future of your family. Sa mga pamilya naman ng mga naligaw nating kapatid sa NPA, hikayatin ninyo silang magbalik-loob na sa pamahalaan. Huwag ninyo silang konsentihin. Mas masayang makauwi sila sa inyo at magbagong buhay sa ilalim ng batas.“
As a mixbag of developments is received from the field, drawing not just individuals but groups of surrenderees to connect with local government units to restart their “new normal” as peaceful citizens, Balik-Loob marks its second anniversary.
in his “Mabuhay” greetings, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. recalled President Rodrigo Duterte’s message accompanying his Executive Order 70 creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict:
” Victory is or goal. To facilitate the realization of our collective aspirations for our beloved country, we must implement our plans on the ground with the Whole of Nation Approach , guided by the principles of good governance.”
Since the president assumed office in July 1, 2016, a total of 13,460 former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army and National Democratic Front have submitted themselves to the Balik-Loob program.
Each returnee and his family members undergo an individual needs assessment, and a program is customized for their new beginning and rehabilitation.
They are given immediate financial package to bridge their transition. They undergo complete medical evaluation and treatment. The children are enrolled in schools or alternative learning systems available in their locality.
In addition, 10,079 rebels have been put under DSWD’s Social Protection Program, accompanied by their immediate families.
Of these, 4,767 former rebels have received a total financial assistance amounting to P354 million, including P190 million of which allotted for the construction of halfways houses in 35 provinces and 3 highly urbanized cities.
For sustainability, Tesda Skills Training has graduated 3,742 and 2,105 have become beneficiaries of the Integrated Livelihood and TUPAD programs. DTI has also extended 474 Livelihood Seeding benefits, enabling the participants to start their own small businesses.
This program is implemented nationwide. In Bicol, Joint Task Force Bicolandia is hopeful that the efforts of the peace-loving citizens and the government will pave the way towards an armed conflict-free region.
The community is now more cooperative in taking part to ending five decades of insurgency by reporting the CTG and their unlawful acts which has led to the series of successful engagements, mass surrenders and apprehension of its leaders.
“Christmas is just around the corner. Everyone can almost feel the joy it brings. Its true meaning and spirit is doubled when shared with your family—your home. Ngayon na ang tamang oras para magbagong-buhay. Let this be your best Christmas gift to your families: a path of peace and your precious presence, “ said Maj Gen Robinson.