NPA hit squad leader captured in Agusan Norte

Authorities captured a New People’s Army (NPA) leader allegedly involved in several high-profile killings in Agusan provinces, an Army official said Sunday.

Lt. Roel Maglalang, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 23rd Infantry Brigade, identified the NPA leader as Joaquin Madrinian, who was captured by a team of military and police personnel in the Agusan del Norte town of Carmen on Sunday.

Authorities confiscated a .45-caliber handgun, ammunition, a hand grenade, and several documents from the NPA leader during his arrest in Barangay Tagcatong, Carmen, around 4:30 a.m.

Maglalang described Madrinian, also known as “Commander Alto”, as the leader of a Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) of the NPA, long known as the rebel group’s urban assassination squad.

Maglalang said Madrinian has five standing warrants of arrest for multiple murder and other crimes connected to his activities with the NPA and is listed as the most wanted NPA “terrorist” and criminal in Agusan del Norte.

Authorities pointed to Madrinian as the prime suspect in the murder of Mayor Dario Otaza of Loreto, Agusan del Sur in 2015.

Otaza, himself a former NPA member, was killed along with his son Daryl three years ago. The NPA admitted to the killing days later.

Maglalang said Madrinian was also involved in the killings of several Indigenous Peoples leaders in Caraga, and in the ambush of Agusan del Norte Gov. Angel Amante-Matba in 2016.

Lt. Col. Francisco Molina, Jr., 23IB commander, said the NPA leader was captured with the help of civilians who provided information about Madrinian’s location.

“Criminal like Alto has no place in the community of peace-loving Caraganons,” Molina said.