AN alleged extortion unit leader of New People’s Army (NPA) was arrested at Barangay Pinggot in Ilog, Negros Occidental over the weekend.
Captain Ruel Llanes, spokesperson of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Murcia, identified the suspect as Reymark Pedro with aliases Bobby, Recoy and Reymark Labrador, 23, a native of Sipalay City.
On May 26, concerned citizens reported to the authorities, alleged extortion activities conducted by Pedro’s group in the said village.
Members of the 15th Infantry Battalion responded to the complaints and conducted pursuit operations.
Pedro and his seven other companions, including two women, were seen by the military troops in the area.
However, only Pedro was cornered inside a store while carrying his .9mm caliber pistol. Others were able to evade arrest.
The owner of the house opened Pedro's bag in front of other witnesses and recovered from him P3,050 in cash, 37 ammunition, six rounds of M16 bullets, extortion letters that bear the logo of “Armando Sumayang Command of the Southwest Front,” and subversive documents.
The bag also contained documents that confirmed Pedro’s affiliation to the rebel group through the certification of completion he garnered as the best officer from NPA's Apolinario Gatmaitan Command.
In a press release, Second Lieutenant Elnard Alde, platoon leader, said Pedro, during the interrogation, admitted his active participation in the NPA extortion activities.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Patricio Tomales, battalion commander, cited the support of the public apparently fed up with NPA extortion activities in the area.
"The soldiers believed they are a big help as they felt the citizens' sincerity with each piece of information they received," he said.
The NPAs do not discriminate. It is not just the businessmen and politicians they extort money from, Tomales said, adding that "even small store owners are also victims of their extortion activities."
For his part, Brigadier General Eliezer Losañes, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade, thanked the concerned citizens who had the courage to speak up against the NPA's extortion activities, as he claimed they can raise over P25 million a year. (GYM)