Esperon bares foiled NPA 'assassination plot' vs. NTF-ELCAC officials

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. revealed Friday, May 21, an alleged plot by the New People's Army (NPA) to kill government officials in the security sector, including spokespersons of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr. (File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Esperon said police and military forces thwarted the assassination plan after a joint operation in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Three suspected NPA members were killed in the operation, he said.

They were identified as Rommel Rizza alias "Jomar/Bernie," the alleged commanding officer of the NPA’s Regional Special Operations Group in Southern Tagalog; "Ka Blue/Billy," a medic and supply officer; and "Ka Dean," the group’s intelligence officer.

"One of their missions is to hit NTF-ELCAC talking heads. However, they were pre-empted," said Esperon, who is also the vice chairman of the anti-communist insurgency task force.

Esperon, however, did not specify who were the targets of the NPA suspects. The NPA is the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police-(PNP) Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar has yet to confirm the alleged assassination plan.

However, the PNP released an incident report saying that joint police and military units served multiple warrants of arrest against Rizza in Barangay Macabling at 1:45 a.m. Friday.

The report said Rizza was facing five warrants for multiple attempted murder and murder issued by Judge Aurora Maqueda-Roman of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 61 in Gumaca, Quezon; and kidnapping with murder issued by Honorable Judge Rodolfo Obnamia Jr. of RTC Branch 64 in Mauban, Quezon.

When the authorities swooped down on Rizza's safehouse, they were allegedly met with gunfire. The police and military were forced to return fire, hitting the suspects.

The suspects were brought to Sta. Rosa Community Hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival by the attending doctors, the report said.

Esperon lauded the government forces involved in the "successful operations". These included the 4th Intelligence and Security Unit and 14th Army Intelligence Battalion, the 202 Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, the Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), Regional Intelligence Unit-4, and the Laguna Police Provincial Office.