CPP head ‘was here for R&R’

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014


COMMUNIST leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria had been staying in Cebu for two months and probably chose the province for rest, a police official said yesterday.

Chief Supt. Danilo Constantino, director of Police Regional Office (PRO) 7, said the rebels wouldn’t conduct armed activities in places they consider as “white areas”, such as Cebu.

“Parang itong R&R area nila. Dito sila nagsasagawa ng pagpupulong (They came here to rest. They also held their meetings here),” he told reporters.

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GMA 7 Cebu’s Balitang Bisdak reported that the local police found yesterday the alleged hideout of the leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in an interior portion of Barangay Sangat, San Fernando.

According to the report, some residents nearby said the couple kept to themselves and rented a house in Sitio Boloc-Boloc for P20,000 a month. They were also seen in Carcar City on several occasions.

Like the military’s Central Command, the Police Regional Office raised its alert status after the couple’s arrest, which happened a week before the 45th anniversary of the NPA, the Communist Party’s armed wing.

Police were told to strengthen the security measures in police stations.

Cebu remains insurgency-free despite the arrest of the CPP-NPA’s top officials, Gov. Hilario Davide III and the head of the military’s Central Command assured yesterday.

“I’d like to think so and I believe so, that Cebu is insurgency-free,” said Davide.

Monitoring

He also directed Cebu Provincial Police Director Noel Gillamac and the Central Command to continue monitoring the presence of rebel and criminal elements in Cebu.

Gillamac told him in a visit yesterday that the couple was just here on R&R and that there was no reported recruitment being done, nor any reported sightings of NPA fighters.

The Central Command chief, Major Gen. John Bonafos, who also visited and briefed the governor yesterday, agreed with the observation.

“Patunay lang ito na effective at maganda ang ginagawa naming program (This proves that our program is effective),” said Bonafos.

Bonafos said the CPP-NPA chairman probably chose Cebu because of its strategic location and because they thought they could move more freely without being monitored.

“Sadyang kampante sila. Akala nila hindi sila makikila at walang magrereport (They let their guard down. They probably thought no one would recognize or report them),” Bonafos said.

‘Oplan Pagtugis’

Governor Davide admitted he was surprised by the arrest.

Interviewed separately, PRO 7 Chief Constantino said the police are also checking the background of three people from Cebu who were with the couple when they got arrested in the mountain barangay of Zaragosa, Aloguinsan last Saturday afternoon.

They were identified as Nona Castillo of Consolacion town; Jeosi Nepa of Lapu-Lapu City; and Arlene Panea of Mactan.

Benito, 63, and Wilma, 61, were reportedly based in Eastern Visayas before.

Their arrest was carried out following a meeting between the PNP and Intelligence Unit officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Crame last March 21, in line with the PNP’s “Oplan Pagtugis.”

On March 22, elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group from Metro Manila, the Philippine Army and Carcar City Police were told to conduct a checkpoint.

Overtaken

The authorities had received intelligence information that the Tiamzons being on board of a gray Hyundai Starex van (with license plate MDN-171), with a security back-up vehicle, a black Toyota Innova (YGY-897).

However, the convoy drove past the checkpoint in Barangay Valencia, Carcar.

The team caught up with them in Barangay Zaragoza, Aloguinsan, where they managed to overtake and block the convoy.

“Immediately, after the occupants of the two vehicles were neutralized, CIDG detectives approached and opened the door of the gray Hyundai Starex van and were able to identify two of the top ranking CPP personalities inside,” one of the arresting team’s affidavit stated.

“While the CIDG detectives were affecting the arrest of the Tiamzon couple, the black Toyota Innova behind the Hyundai Starex van tried to maneuver back to escape from the law enforcers presence but was timely blocked,” the affidavit added. (Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 25, 2014.

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