DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Aug) – Four suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA), including a minor, who the military claimed were bound for Davao City to attend a rally, were arrested at 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday in San Isidro town in Davao Oriental province, with various firearms found in their possession.
In a report issued by the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) on Thursday, it said that the 28th Infantry Battalion immediately deployed troops to arrest the rebels upon receiving report from the community of the presence of the alleged NPA fighters.
Allegedly recovered from their possession were four M16 rifles, one grenade, one improvised explosive devise, 89 M16 ammunition, one M203 ammunition, three long steel magazines for M16, one long plastic magazine for M16, two short steel magazines for M16, two short plastic magazines for M16, 11 Motorola handheld radios, one digital camera, three mobile phones, three hammocks, four backpacks, two bandoliers, two combat boots, medical paraphernalia, medicines, document with “high intel values,” and a cash worth P1,926.
The military identified the four as Jerome Jaquin Apyag, 25, resident of Maco, Compostela Valley; Jerman Andress, 22, of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur; Eking Artchie, 18, of Lupon, Davao Oriental; and 16-year-old Bolantoy (not his real name), of Mati in Davao Oriental.
The military lambasted the NPA for their incessant recruitment of minors to join their force, and said it “shows that the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines) does not respect the rights of minors,” which is a violation of international humanitarian law.
It said the rebels were members of NPA-Southern Mindanao Region Committee 18 who were tasked to transport “weapons and explosives from Mati to Lupon” onboard a red Kia Bongo when intercepted by military troops along the highway in San Isidro town.
The military claimed the four suspected rebels admitted they were headed to Davao City to attend a rally.
The four were turned over to San Isidro Police Station for inquest and will be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
The military said arrest was conducted without fires shot that “manifested the commitment of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines)” to enforce our laws.
The military told the rallyists to be “wary in joining” protests because of the possible involvement of some NPA members. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)