By Calvin Cordova and Marting Sadongdong
CEBU CITY—A high-ranking official of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed in an encounter with law enforcers, who tried to serve arrest warrants against him, in Barangay Pong-ol Sibugay shortly before midnight last Sunday.
Suspect Denis Paradero Rodinas reportedly fired shots at the police and members of the Philippine Army’s Task Force, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor (TF-CBS), who arrived at his residence located in a mountainous area here.
Rodinas was armed with a .45 caliber pistol during the shootout, police said.
Rodinas’ live-in partner Gerlie Mercado, who was also wanted for murder, was arrested.
Two other civilians were also arrested, and are facing charges for obstruction of justice after they allegedly tried to intervene in the serving of the arrest warrants.
Police Regional Office Central Visayas Director Brig- Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro said the couple was involved in several atrocities in southern Mindanao and may have come to Cebu to hide.
The couple lived in a two-storey house that was still under construction.
“Some barangays officials complained because the house was built on a government-owned lot and they didn’t have permits,” said Ferro.
The warrants of arrest were issued against Rodinas for “murder, terroristic acts, and other heinous crimes” by the Branch 3, Regional Trial Court, 11th Judicial Region which were transferred to Branch 56, RTC in Compostella, Davao de Oro.
Law enforcers were able to track down the couple with the help of the community.
“We thank the villagers who tipped-off the location of Rodinas. We were able to plan out and implement all measures that will ensure the swift arrest as well as the safety of the people nearby during the operation,” said Col Jerry Borja, Commander of TF-CBS.
Ferro said investigation was ongoing to find out how the couple was able to enter Cebu, and if they still have cohorts hiding in the province.
Ferro assured that Cebu remains safe against threats of insurgency and authorities are ready for any retaliation from the communist group.
“Cebu is still a safe place to live. The police and the military are ready for any eventuality and we assure the public that we will not lower our guards down,” said Ferro.
Borja said Rodina’s death was a major blow, especially for the NPA operating in southern Mindanao.
“Generally, his death will affect the operations of the NPA because he was a commander, a high-ranking official of the group,” Borja said.
Borja said Rodinas was one of the most wanted NPA terrorists in Mindanao and masterminded the brutal killing of Mayor Dario Otaza of Loreto, Agusan del Sur and his son Daryl in Butuan City in October 2015.
Otaza and his son were abducted and brutally murdered by unidentified gunmen who posed as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Butuan City.
According to the military, Otaza belonged to the Manobo Tribe and joined the NPA SMRC in 1978.
In 1985, Otaza surrendered to the government, and was also able to convince 246 rebels to yield to authorities, angering the NPA leadership.
“It has been said before that the long arm of the law will soon reach this fugitive and it finally happened. Mayor Otaza and his son, Daryl, as well as all other victims of his atrocities can be at peace now,” Lt. Gen. Roberto Ancan, commander of Central Command (CentCom), said.
Rodinas was also linked to multiple NPA atrocities including the ambuscade against members of President Duterte’s Presidential Security Group (PSG) in Davao City on July 18, 2017, and the burning of P8 million to P2 billion worth of heavy equipment owned by private companies in five separate incidents in Davao City in 2017 and 2018; in Panabo City in 2017; and in Agusan del Sur in 2011.
He was tagged in the killing of two CAFGU Auxiliary Active (CAA) personnel in Zamboanga del Sur and Misamis Occidental in 2009, and in an attack at barangay security forces in Brgy. Mahongkog, Arakan, North Cotabato in 2017.
He was accused of planning and initiating the abduction of Compostela Valley provincial jail warden, Jose Mervin Coquilla, in December 2013 to bargain for the release of rebel leader Elizalde Cañete, who was imprisoned at the Tagum City Jail in Surigao del Sur.
In 2011, Rodinas allegedly got involved in the intelligence gathering and planning of NPA SMRC’s raid of a military patrol base in Barangay Kanidkid, Montevista, Davao de Oro; and a bloody attack at a compound owned by the late Monkayo Mayor Joselito Brillantes Jr. in Monkayo, Compostela Valley in 2015, where several high-powered firearms, ammunition and explosives were carted away.
“We congratulate the strong resolve of all the AFP and PNP (units) who are involved in years of hard work and sacrifice just to give justice to all the victims of Rodinas crimes. We will continue this momentum until the last NPA shall decide to put an end (to) their atrocities,” Ancan said.