THE police and military have arrested three suspected communist rebels carrying a sack full of high powered guns, bullets and explosives in Sumilao, Bukidnon, on Wednesday, August 23.
The suspects were identified as Romeo Salilo,49; Roger Ayombo, 40; and Rey Lomingka, 25; all residents of Licoan village, Sumilao town.
Seized from the suspects were an M14 rifle, caliber .22 rifle, an Armalite rifle, two steel magazine of 7.62mm, 45 rounds of caliber 7.62mm cartridges, two steel magazine of 5.56mm, 40 rounds of caliber 5.56mm cartridges, two hand grenade, seven rounds of 12 gauge cartridges, 9 rounds of caliber 38 cartridges, five fired cartridges of caliber 38, two cellular phones, and 12 assorted subversive documents.
The Bukidnon police and soldiers belonging to the 1st Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army were conducting law enforcement operation at Licoan village and three nearby communities when the suspects were sighted carrying firearms.
The troops took cover at a grassy portion of about 30 meters away from the house and observed the suspects helping each other unloading the items from the sack.
Police said the house owner was seen pulling out a rifle from the sack prompting the authorities to arrest the suspects.
"Wala nay nahitabo nga encounter kay dali sila nga naaresto," Captain Norman Tagros, 403rd Infantry Brigade civic military operations officer, said.
Tagros said the suspects are believed to be members of the NPA guerrilla front 68 operating in Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan in Bukidnon.
Tagros added the presence of the armed group in the area has been persistently reported by military units on the ground.
"Persistent ang report sa NPA presence diha sa area. Daghan hitabo sa pagpanunog diha, encounter with the government troops, naa pud identified nga encampment diha busa nagtuo ta nga diha sa maong group gkan ang mga armas," Tagros said.
Tagros clarified that the suspects were arrested for illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives, and not because of martial law or their affiliation with the NPA.
Tagros also stressed that the government troops will continue to launch security operations with or without the martial law declaration.
"There are groups in Bukidnon that criticize the law enforcement of the police and security operations of the military. We want to clarify that they are arrested because of violation of illegal possession of firearms and explosives," Tagros said.
Tagros reiterated that the military will continue the conduct of military operations against the Maoist guerillas who earlier pronounced an intensified attacks against the state security forces.
The suspects will face charges for illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosive charges.
"We turn-over them sa Bukidnon police for the filing and the disposition of firearms," Tagros said.