By Ding Cervantes
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO - Eleven armed alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were arrested over the weekend in a joint army and police operation in Barangay Kabayunan, Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT) in Bulacan, but sources from Camp Olivas here said the armed men belonged to a private army of a politician running in the local elections.
Army 7th Infantry Division (7ID) public affairs officer Capt. Mark Anthony Ruelos said in a report the men were arrested by troops from the 56th Infantry Battalion (56IB) headed by Lt. Col. Bernardo Oña and the DRT police.
The arrested suspected NPA rebels were identified as Rodolfo Cruz, 65, of Barangay Bigte, Norzagaray, Bulacan; Rico Vicene, 43, of San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan; Josefino Lupanco, 34, of Salangan, San Miguel; Cyrhyl dela Cruz,19, of Barangay. Tibagan, San Miguel; Jayson Valmadrid, 25, of Barangay San Juan, San Miguel; Randy Puno, 33, of Barangay Salangan, San Miguel; and Angel Cabrera, 48, also of Barangay Salangan, San Miguel.
“The operation resulted in no gunfire and yielded three .45 mm high-powered firearms, four hand grenades, a shotgun with six ammunitions, subversive documents which included Permit to Campaign (PTC) letters, solicitation letters, and a blue book containing names, places, activities, and area study; and paramedic instruments such as medicines, stethoscope, and syringe,” Ruelos said.
Follow-up operations in the area later led to the capture of three more alleged NPA members identified as Graciano dela Cruz, Billy Asuncion and William Asuncion, and the seizure of their arms that included three M16 and two M14 rifles, as well as subversive documents.
The arrest of the armed men was triggered by information from a “concerned citizen” that about 30 men alleged to be NPA members were present in remote Sitio Mahangin and Sitio Sapang Linao in DRT, he said.
Ruelos said the armed men were apparently “sending PTC letters to local candidates and had even planned to establish checkpoints in the area to ambush uncooperative bets.”
”The seized items were turned over to the local police and will serve as evidences against the suspects who are now under the custody of DRT police for proper documentation and filing of appropriate criminal charges,” Ruelos added.
A source from Camp Olivas who asked not to be named for lack of authority to disclose information said that the alleged communist rebels who were captured in DRT were also members of an armed group being maintained by one candidate running for a local post in the Bulacan town in the coming May elections. The politician was not identified. – With reports from Rommel Ramos