Troops capture 'brains' behind NPA atrocities in Mindanao

By Lilian Mellejor and Rhoda Grace Saron

February 25, 2018, 1:39 pm

DAVAO CITY -- A ranking member of the New People’s Army (NPA) in northeastern Mindanao was captured in a joint police and military operation in Barangay Villalangit, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) on Sunday reported that Pablito Campos, also known as "Batik" or "Ponsoy," front secretary of the Guerrilla Front 21A was captured by Sibagat police and the troops from the 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3SFBn) under the 401st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army.

Campos also served as the spokesperson of the Sub-Regional Committee of Westland of North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

Eastmincom spokesman, Maj. Ezra Balagtey, said the operation also resulted in the confiscation of an M4 rifle, a fully loaded long magazine, three cellular phones, and one backpack containing one hand grenade from Campos’ possession.

The commander of the 401st IB, Col. Andres Centino, is expecting more arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) members with focused operations against the organizations which have been derailing development in the rural areas.

Centino said the capture of Campos shows that security forces adhere to the rule of law and the International Human Rights law.

Centino said Campos would face trial for all "atrocious acts (committed) against the people".

Campos has been accused for the failed ambush of the Sibagat police personnel last July 29, 2017 at El Rio, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

Centino said Campos has eight standing warrants of arrest for crimes of rebellion, frustrated murder, multiple attempted murder, kidnapping and serious illegal detention issued by different regional court offices in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and Bayugan City.

The spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division, 1st Lt, Teresita Ingente, said the capture of Campos is seen as another setback of the CPP-NPA for being the brains behind Front Committee 21A, the top propagandist and the one who allegedly decided on the extortion and abduction activities of the NPA.

Ingente said Campos was also behind the recruitment of NPA members in Sibagat, Bayugan and San Miguel, Agusan del Sur.

She said these two areas have been considered the "root of terrorism" in the areas of Agusan del Sur.

With the capture of Campos, troops vowed to continue their security operations in the area to ensure the safety of communities.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been urging members of the NPA and the supporters to give up and lead normal lives.

Balagtey reported that since January, the 401st IB already neutralized a number of CPP-NPA members from Agusan Sur and Surigao Del Sur.

Balagtey said four have been captured while 57 have surrendered because of the military’s relentless operations.

Also, 26 firearms and more than 100 improvised explosive devices, thousands of ammunition were seized.

Balagtey said the NPA also lost control of four major enemy camps which were overrun by government troops. Ingente said 4th ID under Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva has been urging NPA members and supporters to not to waste the government's call to return to the folds of the law.

Ingente added that the government, through its Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP), is also offering cash and livelihood program for every surrendered firearms.

The 4th ID urged the NPA to take advantage of the program as it will not be offered forever. (PNA)