The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered Wednesday the filing of charges against a board member of Quezon province for allegedly coddling two top New People’s Army (NPA) members in her residence.
In a statement, the DILG revealed that the NPA members were nabbed inside the residence of fourth district board member Rhodora Tan in Atimonan, Quezon last December 26.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año stressed that Tan should be held criminally and administratively liable for hiding the NPA members “in her own residence at Barangay Zone 3, Poblacion.’’
He identified the NPA men as Ruel Custodio alias “Baste” and Ruben Istokado alias “Oyo Miles,” both of whom have standing warrants of arrests.
Custodio is a finance officer of the Sub-Regional Military Area-4 of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee while Istokado is a political instructor of L1, KP1 of the Bicol Regional Party Committee of the CPP-NPA.
Año expressed disbelief that a public official whose sworn duty is to promote and protect the interest and welfare of the public provided shelter and refuge to known enemies of the people.
The DILG chief said that Tan could face up to six years in jail if found guilty of obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree 1829.
He added that Tan can also be charged for being an accomplice or accessory to the crimes committed by the NPA members if it can be proven that she is directly involved or have exerted efforts to protect them.
At the same time, Año said Tan will also be facing administrative liabilities for Disloyalty to the Republic under Civil Service Commission Rules and Administrative Order (AO) 23, series of 1992.
Under the said AO, Año said that Tan can either be removed or suspended from office when found guilty.
Under Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees, Año noted that civil servants are expected to “at all times be loyal to the Republic and to the Filipino people and uphold the Constitution and put loyalty to country above loyalty to persons or party.”
While the number of local government units declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army as persona non grata are increasing, Año noted that it is disappointing to encounter a handful of public officials who covertly support, directly or indirectly, the cause of communist terrorist groups.
Kudos to PNP, AFP
Año also commended the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the successful arrest of Custodio and Estokado.
“Congratulations to our police and military operatives for a job well done. The absence of a ceasefire requires our police and military to be on their toes 24/7 even during the holidays, and the arrest of the two CTG officers attests to their continued vigilance,” he said.
He revealed that Custodio was responsible for collecting/extorting “revolutionary taxes” in the province of Quezon and was charged with kidnapping on July 17, 2019 and illegal possession of firearms on November 27, 2019.
On the other hand, Año said Istokado was responsible for spreading Communist Terrorist group (CTG) propaganda and recruitment to replenish the diminishing ranks of CTGs in the area and was also charged with double murder and multiple murder in September 4, 2014.
“Authorities confiscated one hand grenade, one Bersa cal .38, and one magazine containing 13 live ammunition from Custodio. Likewise, Istokado yielded one cal 45 pistol with one magazine containing six live cartridges,’’ the DILg report noted.
In addition, the DILG disclosed that one hand grenade and one Jericho Cal 9mm pistol with two magazines containing live ammunition reportedly belonging to the two suspects were also turned in to the Atimonan municipal police station.
The two suspects were taken to the Quezon police provincial office for documentation and proper disposition.