Troops nab 2 NPA leaders, seize arms cache in Lanao

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.

December 2, 2019, 1:03 pm

<p><strong>SEIZED.</strong> Government troops on Sunday (Dec. 1, 2019) seize an arms cache belonging to the New People's Army  in Barangay San Isidro, Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte. The recovery came hours after the arrest of two NPA ranking leaders in Barangay Dableston, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte. <em>(Photo courtesy of the Army's 1st Infantry Division)</em></p>

SEIZED. Government troops on Sunday (Dec. 1, 2019) seize an arms cache belonging to the New People's Army  in Barangay San Isidro, Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte. The recovery came hours after the arrest of two NPA ranking leaders in Barangay Dableston, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte. (Photo courtesy of the Army's 1st Infantry Division)

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Government troops have arrested two ranking leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Lanao del Norte, officials said Monday.

Lt. Col. Rolando Orengo, the Army’s 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion commander, identified the arrested NPA leaders as Christopher Cañete and Virjon Virtudazo.

Orengo said the two were arrested by a team of military and police forces at a checkpoint shortly before midnight Sunday in Barangay Dableston, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte.

Cañete and Virtudazo yielded an improvised explosive devised (IED), a .45-caliber pistol, a .38-caliber revolver, rifle grenade, and paraphernalia.

He said the revelation of the two during the custodial debriefing led to the discovery of arms cache around 11:30 a.m. Sunday in Barangay San Isidro, Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte.

The arms cache includes seven M-16 Armalite rifles, one AR18 rifle, one M-203 grenade launcher, one .38-caliber revolver, 29 pairs of bandoliers, 286 magazines for M-16 rifle, and 2,000 rounds of ammunition.

Brig. Gen. Facundo Palafox IV, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade commander, said the arrest of the two leaders is a big blow to the NPAs of the North-Central Mindanao Regional Committee since they hold high positions in their organization.”

Cañete is a commander of one of the guerrilla front companies while Virtuzado is in charge of the recruitment and brainwashing of their recruits in the areas of Iligan, Bukidnon, and Misamis Oriental.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Bagnus Gaerlan Jr., Army’s 1st Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan (the Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao provinces) acting commander, commended the troops for their efforts that led to the arrest of the two NPA leaders and discovery of arms cache. Gaerlan said the arrest of the two leaders will significantly weaken the NPA recruitment and organizational works “in our area of operation.”

He called on the youth, indigenous peoples and other residents to be more vigilant and to immediately report the presence of armed and other threat groups in their communities. (PNA)

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