Government security forces said on Saturday they arrested four Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebels and seized high-powered firearms in a hinterland village in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.
In a media release, Lt. Col. Roderick Salayo, acting commanding officer of the 11th Infantry Battalion (11IB) in Siaton, identified the suspects as Roel Casilao (alias Garry), Lokal Guerilla Unit of the South Eastern Front (SEF) commanding officer, and members Allan Ybañez (alias Ban), Joselie Lasas (alias Tete), and Jestoni Lasas (alias Tata).
They were apprehended during a strike operation in Sitio Tamlang in Barangay Talalak on Aug. 18 after the military and police received information from civilians about the presence of armed men in the area.
Confiscated were two M-14 rifles, an M-16 rifle, a shotgun, three magazines for M-14, assorted ammunition of M-16 and shotgun, two handcuffs, six disposable syringes, assorted flash drives, a map of Negros Oriental, assorted medicines, and alleged subversive documents.
Maj. Cenon Pancito III, spokesperson of the 3rd Infantry Division, told the Philippine News Agency the four are remnants of the SEF.
He while the SEF is supposedly disbanded, there are still about 15 of them in the area who have now shifted to non-combat tactics, such as recruitment of new members.
“The Army will not stop until all of them are either arrested or convinced to surrender,” Pancito said.
The two Lasas have existing arrest warrants for murder.
“The apprehension of these (suspects) will not be the last. There will be more surrenders and apprehensions in the coming days as we intensify our combat operations against the CPP-NPA,” Salayo said.
Col. Leonardo Peña, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade at Camp Leon Kilat in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, lauded the 11IB for the latest apprehension and thanked the locals for cooperating with authorities.
“A CPP-NPA terrorist-free Negros is achievable with you (Negrenses) on our side. Let us continue our effective collaborative efforts to allow peace and progress to prosper in this island,” Peña said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.