Govt troops kill seven NPA rebels in Antique

Published August 15, 2018, 11:48 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Aaron B. Recuenco

Joint police and military operatives killed seven suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA), including two women, following an intense gun battle during a raid on the rebels’ lair in a remote area of San Jose town in Antique.

Photo courtesy of PNP Western Visayas / MANILA BULLETIN
Photo courtesy of PNP Western Visayas / MANILA BULLETIN

Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, director of the Western Visayas regional police, said the operation stemmed from the serving of an arrest warrant against certain Jason Talibo and Joven Ceralbo for a case of frustrated murder.

After confirmation of their presence in Barangay Atabay in San Jose town, local police force backed by soldiers swooped down on the rebel lair at 12:10 a.m. which eventually triggered a gun battle.

“The firefight lasted for 33 minutes. During the clearing operations, seven cadavers were recovered. There were no casualties on the government side,” Bulalacao told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.

He identified the slain rebels as Karen Ceralvo, Felix Salditos, Jason Sanchez, Rene Yap, Liezl Bandiola and Jason Talibo who is one of the two subjects of the arrest warrant. The seventh fatality remained unidentified. Joven Ceralvo, the other subject of the arrest warrant, was able to flee, according to Bulalacao.

Seized during the operation were grenades, handguns, various gadgets that include cellular phones and laptop, identification cards bankbooks and ATM cards.

EXTORTION RACKET

Bulalacao said the confiscation of subversive documents and extortion letters bearing the letterhead of the NPA are proof that the slain people were communist rebels engaged in extortion activities in the province.

The official said the letterhead was that of Napoleon Tumagtang Command Southern Front, the letters are sent to various persons and local companies operating in the region.

“We also recovered a list of persons and companies being extorted and the bankbooks apparently showing where the money is deposited,” said Bulalacao.

He said the slain rebels came Iloilo, Aklan and Negros Occidental. “The extortion letters, firearms, money and various items recovered from this group is a big proof that the NPAs are continuously engaged in criminal activities,” he said.

ALERT

The Antique operation came a few days after suspected communist rebels attacked and ransacked the Lapinig Police Station in Northern Samar where they wounded two policemen and carted away 10 high-powered firearms.

The incident resulted in the sacking of the entire Lapinig Police Force and three other officials including the regional director.

Photo courtesy of PNP Western Visayas / MANILA BULLETIN
Photo courtesy of PNP Western Visayas / MANILA BULLETIN

To prevent the same incident and possible retaliatory attacks, Bulalacao said he has already alerted all police commanders. “With this accomplishment, I require all police stations within my AOR to beef up security and prevent the NPAs from launching attacks in retaliation,” said Bulalacao. He also asked local police commanders to coordinate with local businesses being targeted by communist rebels in extortion activities.

“The PNP will use its resources to defend communities, particularly remote municipalities and business owners who are continuously victimized through extortion activities by this group,” said Bulalacao.

“We will not allow the NPAs to engage in extortion activities under the guise of collecting revolutionary taxes. There is only one legitimate government and that is the Philippine Government. No one is above the law and those who transgress the law shall face the bar of justice,” he added. (Aaron Recuenco)

 
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