KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 1 Sept) – Authorities arrested on Friday two suspected communist rebels after raiding their hideout and seized 20 assault rifles and ammunitions, which were about to be buried in a remote village here, a military official said.
Lt. Col. Harold Argamosa, commander of the 39th Infantry Battalion, said they raided the house owned by Wowie Tagapia Boton, 19, and George Cuyo, 20, at Purok 3, Barangay Katipunan here around 12:30 a.m. after they received tips from reliable sources in the area.
Initially, Argamosa said they confiscated from the suspects two assault rifles loaded with ammunitions.
As the raiding team scoured the area, about 50 meters away from Boton’s house, the Army colonel said they saw a fuel tank with 18 assault rifles inside. The tank, he said, was about to be buried in the area.
Boton and Cuyo, based on information the Police and the Army received from the villagers, are members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) under Guerilla Front 53 whose operations include the provinces of North Cotabato and Bukidnon.
According to Argamosa, it was the same group that led the attack against members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) who were onboard two vehicles in Arakan, North Cotabato last July.
With the confiscation of 20 assault rifles and the arrest of two NPA members, Argamosa said they thwarted another tactical offensive the rebels would carry out in the future.
The rebels, he stressed, are already “pre-positioning” their firearms and ammunitions.
“They are highly mobile. They can bring in their guns, anytime, anywhere. As soon as they arrive in the area, it would be easy to ask other units, like Yunit Militia (YuMil), to join them in their assault,” said Argamosa.
Boton and Cuyo’s place at Barangay Katipunan here is considered part of what local officials said as “Pentagon” or “red spot” as this is highly influenced by the communist guerillas, the colonel explained.
Charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition are already being prepared against Boton and Cuyo.
The operation on Friday was the second the Army and the Philippine National Police launched since August.
On August 1, authorities arrested 54-year-old Sergio Rebuta, believed to be leader of the NPA’s Front 51 Yunit Militia operating in Makilala town, and confiscated from him three assault rifles with more than a thousand ammunition, and an improvised explosive device. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)