GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 November) — Police authorities on Tuesday filed charges of illegal possession of firearms and violation of the election gun ban against two alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were arrested in a checkpoint in T’boli town in South Cotabato last Sunday afternoon.
Supt. Romulo Estocapio, acting public information officer of the Police Regional Office 12, identified the suspects as Alexander Puertogalera, 46, of Tulunan town in North Cotabato and Ariel Arellano, 40, of Poblacion in Norala, South Cotabato.
He said the charges were filed before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Koronadal City.
Estocapio said the suspects were nabbed at around 3:30 p.m. aboard a red Mitsubishi Lancer sedan with license plate PGF 172 in Barangay Sinolon in T’boli town.
A search on the suspects’ vehicle yielded four AK47 rifles bearing serial numbers 11046, 05292, 09483 and 02020; 15 magazines; 433 live bullets of caliber 7.62 or M14 rifle; and, various subversive documents, he said.
Estocapio said Puertogalera is an alleged secretary of the NPA’s regional white area committee while Arellano is one of its active members.
“They were part of the NPA unit that harassed our detachment in Sinolon last March,” he said.
Supt. Jemuel Siason, T’boli police chief, said in a briefing that they have long been monitoring the movements of Puertogalera due to his alleged involvement in previous attacks in the area.
“He is a known member of the NPA and has led some of the group’s recruitment activities,” he said.
Siason said that prior to the capture of the two suspects last Sunday, they had received intelligence reports that a rebel unit will be delivering some high-powered firearms to local NPA members.
He said they immediately set up some roadblocks along the highway leading to T’boli town in coordination with the 4th maneuver company of the Region 12 police’s public safety battalion, bravo company of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency in Region 12.
Siason said they initially flagged down the suspects’ vehicle in Barangay Centrala in Surallah town but it did not stop.
The operative gave chase and finally caught up with the suspects, who are currently in the custody of the T’boli police station, in another checkpoint in Barangay Sinolon.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes commended local authorities for the arrest of the two NPA rebels and the recovery of the firearms.
“Rest assured that the provincial government will always be supportive of whatever endeavors our law enforcers pursue against these lawless elements,” she said. (MindaNews)