By Aaron Recuenco
A ranking police official accused the New People’s Army (NPA) of attempting to sabotage the mass surrender of 2,000 former communist rebels and their supporters in Escalante City in Negros Occidental last week.
Brig. Gen. Rene Pamuspusan, director of the Western Visayas regional police, said the attempt of the local communist rebels to sabotage the mass surrender and oath-taking of former communist rebels and their supporters was confirmed by eight arrested suspected communist rebels in Escalante City two days before the event.
“Their plan is to inflict harm on some of those who surrendered and make a propaganda out of it. If they succeeded, this may have been used to scare their fellow rebels to surrender,” said Pamuspusan.
Negros Island is considered as one of the remaining major operational areas of the NPA in the country.
On September 20, the government held the mass surrender and oath-taking of communist rebels and their supporters in various parts of the province.
But two days before, a joint police and military operatives arrested eight armed men who were on board a van in Barangay Balintawak in Escalante City.
Arrested were Joel Guillero, 40; Clint Mangayon, 20; Buenvenido Ducay, 55; Aiza Gamao, 32; Jonathan Alcosiva; 21; and a 17-year old minor all from Escalante City; and Kenneth Serondo, 19; and Leon Charito, 60 who are both from the town of Toboso.
Seized from them were six .45 caliber pistols loaded with magazines and ammunitions; one .38 caliber revolver with ammunitions; one KG9 sub-machine pistol with ammunitions; improvised dynamites and bombs and propaganda materials.
Pamuspusan said criminal charges were already filed against them.
“Based on the investigation and analysis of the confiscated firearms and explosives, the arrested suspects are planning to create a scenario to disrupt the holding of mass oath of allegiance of their former members and supporters and accuse the state forces as the one responsible of the incident and eventually use it as a propaganda against the government,” said Pamuspusan.
The government, it was recalled, has shifted to localized peace talks after the peace negotiations with the communist rebels via the National Democratic Front of the Philippines bogged down anew.
This resulted in the surrender of hundreds of communist rebels and their supporters in the past months, and the escalation of attacks of communist rebels.
On Tuesday, suspected communist rebels ambushed a police vehicle in Oriental Mindoro and resulted in the wounding of three cops, two of them are policewomen.
Police Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, deputy chief for Operations of the PNP, said the localized peace talks is essential in end local communist armed conflict in the timeframe set by President Duterte.
“We are optimistic that the whole of nation approach is truly the effective medicine that will cure the illness of 50 years of insurgency that our country has been suffering”, said Gamboa who was present in a press briefing about the arrest of the communist rebels.