THE Philippine Army tagged the New People's Army (NPA) as the number one private army in Negros.
Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303rd Brigade based in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia made this statement Friday, January 11, when the Provincial Joint Security Control Center (PJSCC) was convened at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City.
“They (rebels) are the number one threat and they are the number one private army of Jose Maria Sison. We know that they have political intentions this coming elections. The number one private armed group of Negros, if not the whole Philippines, is the NPA,” Arevalo declared.
He said the NPAs have substantial coverage in Negros up to this time.
Arevalo said the rebel group launched harassment at the Hilamonan detachment of the military and that a 15-minute firefight occurred between the rebels and the military that resulted in the injury of one military personnel.
The army commander said the rebels retaliated after the military overrun an NPA camp in Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan on New Year's Day.
The military recovered the rebels’ belongings in the said camp.
He also revealed that the rebels are trying to create a scenario and escalate violence for their alleged extortion activities relative to the coming May 13 elections.
“They are terrorists and extortionist for a price. We are trying to stop them and we are running after them. They would possibly come down to divert the attention of the public,” he said.
He added: “We have to intensify our operations against them and we really have to go on the offensive. We cannot wait for them to attack our detachments and that's my order is to attack them first before they attack us.”
He further claimed the NPAs are even extorting money from civilians.
“We encourage those who are victims of the rebels’ extortion activities to contact us through our detachments and proper authorities like the police because we are closely coordinating with each other. It will be dealt with confidentiality and we will do some actions to address them,” he assured.
Meanwhile, Acting Negros Occidental Provincial Election Supervisor Salus Milagros Villanueva led yesterday the first command conference of PJSCC.
She was joined by Bacolod City election registrar Mavil Majarucon-Sia, Bacolod City police head Senior Superintendent Francisco Ebreo, and Negros Occidental police head Senior Superintendent Romeo Baleros.