BACOLOD CITY – Eight suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were arrested by the police during a checkpoint operation in Barangay Jonob-jonob, Escalante City in Negros Occidental on Wednesday afternoon.
Those arrested, who were carrying firearms and improvised explosives, were allegedly part of the NPA’s Northern Negros Front – Komiteng Rehiyon Negros.
They were identified as Aiza Gamao, 32, an officer of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) – Negros; Clint Mangayon, 20; Kenneth Serondo, 19; Joel Guillero, 40; Leon Charito, 60; Buenvinido Ducay, 55; Jonathan Alcosiva, 21; and a 17-year-old male minor.
Col. Romeo Baleros, provincial police director, said the eight have been identified by former rebels as NPA members who were allegedly planning to disrupt the ongoing peace summit in Escalante City.
“The information came from their former comrades, that they are concealing firearms and explosives,” Baleros said in a briefing with reporters in Escalante City on Thursday.
He dismissed the claim of those arrested, who have been placed in the custody of the city police, that the firearms and explosives seized were planted by policemen.
“That’s their allegation. You know, they are masters of deception,” he added.
The suspects will be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, Baleros said, adding that the firearms seized from them would be submitted to the crime laboratory for examination.
A police report showed that personnel of the 1st Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company intercepted the group on board a passenger vehicle bound for Barangay Balintawak, Escalante City.
Patrolman Ruvic Bering initially noticed that one of the passengers, later identified as Serondo, had a caliber .45 pistol tucked in his waist.
Based on the inventory, the police seized six .45-caliber Colt pistols, a .38-caliber revolver, and a KG9 machine pistol with ammunition, three rifle grenades, two improvised dynamites, and 21 improvised petrol bombs.
The arrest of the eight came a day after two suspected NPA members were captured following the encounter between government troops and communist rebels in Barangay Old Poblacion, also in Escalante City.
The Philippine Army identified the two as Jomar “Mari” Agustin, a resident of Barangay Salamangca, Toboso town; and Revely “Tara” Tayab, who hails from Barangay Bago, Don Salvador Benedicto.
During their arrest on Tuesday, troops found in Agustin’s possession a .45-caliber pistol with three bullets while Tayab yielded another .45-caliber pistol with five bullets along with a bandoleer and a hammock.
The police said Agustin is a member of the Special Partisan Unit or SPARU of the NPA’s Northern Negros Front. He is facing a murder case for killing a police officer and another person in front of the Escalante City Shopping Center in 2013.