MANILA, Philippines - At least six ranking members of the New People’s Army (NPA), including one of its commanders, were arrested in separate government operations while 45 surrendered to authorities last Wednesday and yesterday.
Henry Aguenza, secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA in Catanduanes, and his companion were arrested in Barangay San Isidro, Calamba, Laguna when a taxi driver accused them of robbery, the military said yesterday.
Southern Luzon Command spokesman Col. Generoso Bolina said a report of Col. Ivan Samarita identified Aguenza’s companion as Alicia Cenon, said to be another ranking member of the NPA in Bicol and a resident of Barangay Malictic in Norzagaray, Bulacan.
Roger Salvoro, 43, of Barangay Catmon in Malabon City, sought the assistance of a traffic enforcer along the national highway in Cabuyao when the suspects allegedly strangled him using the seatbelt in his taxi when he refused to bring them to Bicol.
Salvoro said the suspects also took his cellular phone and P2,700 earnings.
Recovered from the suspects were two flash disks, 10 cellular phones and a laptop.
Maj. Eugenio Osias IV, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Division, said a group of 45 rebels also surrendered to Col. Romeo Gapuz, chief of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade in Bukidnon yesterday.
1st Lt. Tala Servidad, spokesman for the Army’s 7th Division, said six NPA rebels, including three ranking members, surrendered to authorities in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija last Wednesday.
The rebels were cornered by the troops after a 10-minute firefight in Sto. Ninõ village.
They were identified as Carla Ramos Bautista, a political instructor of the Central Luzon regional committee; Andres Lapuz Ely; John Michael Ilito; Felix Sarabia; and Ambrosio Ilito. Efren Delalamon suffered a bullet wound in the arm and was treated by Army doctors.
The rebels were detained at the provincial police office for the inquest proceedings.
Soldiers seized an M-16 rifle and ammunition, two hand grenades, ammunition for a caliber. 45 handgun, a laptop, a portable generator, a radio, a handcuff, three cellular phones, assorted medical paraphernalia and medicines and P116,000 from the rebels.
Meanwhile, the CPP has ordered the NPA to intensify its armed struggle and its recruitment efforts as the armed group celebrated its 43rd anniversary yesterday.
“The party cadres and red commanders must work together closely in planning political-military training and tactical offensives. Party recruitment and education must be conducted within the people’s army,” the CPP said in a statement.
Latest military data show that the strength of the NPA stood at 4,043 as of last year. – Alexis Romero, Eva Visperas, Ric Sapnu -