Arrest of key Negros rebel leaders ‘major setback’ to CPP-NPA

By Nanette Guadalquiver

March 26, 2019, 4:02 pm

BACOLOD CITY -- The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) has lauded the operating troops for the arrest of top Negros Island communist rebel leaders Francisco “Frank” Fernandez and Cleofe Lagtapon.

Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, commander of 3ID based in Jamindan, Capiz, said in a statement on Tuesday that their arrest will pose a major setback to the ranks of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) not only in Negros Island, but in the entire country as well.

“It will create drastic demoralization among their members and will dwindle their armed capability and will to fight,” said Dolina, whose area of command covers the islands of Panay, Negros, Cebu, and Bohol.

Fernandez, 71, one of the most wanted persons in the country, was arrested in Liliw, Laguna on Sunday morning. He has four standing arrest warrants for murder, including one that involved the killing of his wife, the police said.

He was apprehended along with his partner, Lagtapon, 66, who reportedly heads the NPA Regional Deputy for Communications and Education in Negros Island, and Gee-Ann Perez, 20, a member of the NPA Regional Communications Staff in Negros Island.

Fernandez is the secretary of the NPA Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros and consultant of the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the CPP-NPA.

“Fernandez’s apprehension is not only our victory, but also of the people especially those who suffered in the cruel hands of his terrorist group. This is what I was talking about -- the demise of the communist terrorist group,” Dolina added.

The Army official said the arrest of the top Negrense communist rebel leaders was the result of the combined efforts of Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police units, which obtained information from reliable civilian sources.

“This is also a breakthrough in our campaign against violence and terrorism in Central and Western Visayas,” he added. (PNA)