By GERRY LEE GORIT
CAGAYAN de Oro City–Authorities arrested suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA), one of them believed to be an expert in bomb-making, in an operation conducted by the police and military.
The military identified the suspects as Ruel Calolot, who is believed to be an expert in assembling improvised explosive device (IED), and his brother Ramil.
The Calolots are said to be members of the NPA, said Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, the spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID).
They were arrested in Purok 8, Barangay Kiburiao, in Quezon town, Bukdidnon on Wednesday, August 2.
From the identification card taken from Ruel, it was found out he is also a member of the Anak Pawis party-list.
The ID was signed by then Anak Pawis national president Rafael Mariano, now the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform.
Confiscated from the possession of the suspects were 24 pieces of IEDs, two caliber .38 revolver pistols, 10 meters safety fuse, 200 meters detonating cords, five blasting caps, switch boxes, three laptops, a 57 Recoilless Rifle, 51 rounds of caliber .30 ammunition, other IED paraphernalia, and documents, Martinez said.
He said a team of police officers and government troopers responded to information that NPA fighters is planning to launch attacks in the area.
The operation has led to a five-minute encounter and the arrest of the suspects.
“The arrest of the NPA’s bomb expert will cripple and delay their plans to carry out attacks in our area of responsibility,” said Martinez on Thursday afternoon.
He said it will take the NPA some time to train another IED maker, giving the military the opportunity to intensify its operation against the guerrillas.
With the loss of Calolot, Martinez said the 4ID troops are confident they will penetrate the areas the NPA is holding, especially in the province Bukidnon and the Caraga region where the rebels have been conducting attacks against the police and military.
On the apprehension of the insurgents, Major General Benjamin Madrigal, the 4ID commander, said: “This another victory sends a strong message to all NPAs that [the] people are already fed up [with] all your lies and atrocities. Continue your modus and crimes and you will have your place behind bars.”
With the huge number of IEDs confiscated from the Maoist guerrillas, Madrigal said “we have saved the lives of people who could have been victims of their landmining activity which grossly violate the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law). This is really a proof that they (NPA) do not honor their commitment.”
The CARHRIHL is an agreement that ensures the safety of civilians from the armed conflict between state forces and belligerent groups.
General Eduardo Año, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in his recent visit to the wounded soldiers fighting in Marawi City at the 4ID station hospital, said, “The arrested NPA members will surely pay for the crimes they’ve committed against the people. Carry on and continue to press the fight for we know that we have the strength and support of our people.”
After their apprehension, the two alleged NPA insurgents and the recovered items were turned over to the Bukidnon provincial police, said Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, the Philippine National Police-10 (PNP-10) regional spokesperson.
In a separate statement, Chief Superintendent Timoteo Pacleb, PNP-10 regional director, has expressed his appreciation to the community for their vigilance and security consciousness in the law enforcement agency’s efforts against the Communist rebels’ activities.
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