SEIZED FIREARMS. Capt. Cenon Pancito III (center), public affairs chief of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, presents the firearms, ammunition, and explosives seized from the offices of progressive groups in raids conducted on Thursday (Oct. 31, 2019), during a press conference held at the Negros Occidental Police headquarters in Bacolod City on Friday afternoon (Nov. 1, 2019). With him are Col. Romeo Baleros (left), police provincial director; and Col. Benliner Capili, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 6 (Western Visayas). (PNA photo by Nanette L. Guadalquiver)

BACOLOD CITY -- The raids conducted by the authorities in offices of progressive groups here that led to the recovery of a cache of firearms, ammunition, and explosives were the result of detailed intelligence work, a military spokesperson has said.

Capt. Cenon Pancito III, public affairs chief of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, dismissed claims that the police and military operatives planted the evidence.

“With the voluminous war materiel that we got, it would be very impossible for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to produce all these that we have recovered,” Pancito said in a joint AFP-PNP press conference held at the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office headquarters on Friday afternoon.

“This is a product of thorough intelligence operations. (The information) did not just come from one source. We actually have various sources,” he added.

During the press briefing, Pancito was joined by Col. Romeo Baleros, police provincial director, and Col. Benliner Capili, director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 6 (Western Visayas).

They presented the 32 firearms, 130 rounds of ammunition, and five explosives as well as the subversive documents recovered during the raids conducted in four areas occupied by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Gabriela, Anakpawis and National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) late Thursday afternoon.

The first two locations were in Barangay Bata, where most of the war materiel were recovered, and the majority of those arrested were found.

In Barangay Taculing, two were arrested in their residence, and in Barangay 33, where the NFSW office is located, two were also apprehended.

The operations were supported by search warrants obtained by the CIDG, based on the information validated by the military, Pancito said.

The warrants were issued for violation of Republic Act 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Law, by Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of the Regional Trial Court Branch 89 in Quezon City.

Pancito said the final count of the persons arrested was 55 after it was initially reported that 62 persons were rounded up during the simultaneous raids.

Of the number, 40 were identified as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) Komiteng Rehiyon - Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor and are now in the custody of the Negros Occidental police.

The 15 others, including 14 minors and a 19-year-old female, considered as recruits, have been endorsed to the city’s Department of Social Services and Development.

“They come from different areas in Negros Occidental (and) are undergoing combat-related training and indoctrination,” the joint AFP-PNP statement said.

Among those arrested were 10 considered as HVIs or high-value individuals, identified as John Milton Lozande, Noli Lazera Rosales, Proceso Quiatchon, Albert de la Cerna, Mary Anne Krueger/Mary Anne de la Concepcion, Romulo Bito-on, Amaylin “Chin-Chin” Bito-on, Diego Malacad, Danilo Tabura, and Roberto Lachica.

In the joint statement, the police and the army said they have obtained validated information from concerned citizens in Bacolod on the presence of suspicious armed personalities in the locations where the raids were conducted.

Pancito said that among those who provided information were former NPA members and mass supporters who surrendered in Escalante City last September.

“If those arrested would allege that it was a frame-up, they have the right to challenge us in a proper court and we are willing to face them,” he added. (PNA)