THREE suspected high ranking officers of the communist New People's Army (NPA) were arrested in a joint police and military operation in Butuan City late last week.
Armed with an arrest warrant, police arrested Virgilio Torralba Lincuna, 68, a resident of Barangay Banza, Butuan City. He was arrested at the office of Unyon ng mga Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte (UMAN) Office on October 10.
Brigadier General Joselito Esquivel Jr., Police Regional Office (PRO) 13 director, said Lincuna is the secretary of Regional Urban Committee (RUC), Regional White Area Committee (RWAC), Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) and at the same time chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) that spearheaded mass actions in Butuan City.
Police said Lincuna has three standing warrants of arrest for attempted murder with P100,000 recommended bail bond each which were all issued by a court in Surigao del Sur last May 14.
But militant group Anakpawis denied that Lincuna is a high ranking NPA official, saying he is just a mere peasant leader in Caraga region.
According to the group, Lincuna is the chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas– Caraga regional chapter and Unyon sa mga Mag-uuma sa Agusan Del Norte (UMAN) as well as a National Council Member of KMP.
Anakpawis said Lincuna was instrumental in the campaign for wage increase of farmers, prices of palay and copra, and reduction of land rent and interests on loans.
On the following day, two alleged NPA finance officer/intelligence staff were arrested.
Police identified the suspects as Nori Torregosa, 37, resident of Purok 1, Brgy Maasin, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, and his live-in partner Melissa Comiso, 38.
Torregosa is believed to be an intelligence staff of NPA's North Central Mindanao Regional Committee while Comiso is said to be a finance officer of the CPP-NPA Komisyon Mindanao (KOMMID).
Esquivel said Comiso takes charge "in the management of the collection and distribution of extortion money in Mindanao while Torregosa is responsible to collect, compile or analyze information."
A search warrant for loose firearm issued by a court in Butuan City on October 10, led to the arrest of the two.
During the search, police recovered 2 hand grenades, a caliber .45 pistol, six .45 caliber ammunition, magazine, a caliber .38 revolver, three caliber .38 ammunition, components for making improvised explosive device, subversive documents and personal belongings.
The top Caraga cop said they hope to gather information from the arrested suspects that would lead them identify individuals, business institutions and groups that are providing financial support to the NPA.
"The successful Law Enforcement Operation is the product of collaboration and partnership of the community and the PNP Caraga. The government’s efforts against the CPP-NPA terrorists are relentless and we will not stop here until we can ensure the safety and security of the Caraganons," he added.