Authorities nab NPA bombmaker

Troops of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), under the supervision of LtGen. Greg T. Almerol has deterred Communist Terrorist Group’s (CTG) potential bomb attacks against civilian communities and government forces after the most notorious bombmaking expert in Southern Mindanao along with his two companions were arrested by the joint forces of 1001st Brigade, Philippine National Police (PNP) and intel units during the conduct of Law Enforcement Operations in Barangay La Filipina, Tagum City on March 9.

The CTG personalities were identified as Victor Rollon, also know as Rico Rollon, bombmaker of Komisyong Mindanao (KOMMID) and Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), Christine Joy Adorza Dula, Finance Officer of Guerrilla Front 3 (GF3), Sub-Regional Committee 4 (SRC4), SMRC, and Chargelyn Monta Casquejo, Political Instructor of Pulang Bagani Command (PBC), Regional Operations Command (ROC), SMRC.

LtGen. Almerol said that Rollon has a standing warrant of arrest for Murder and Serious Illegal Detention, Dula for the crime of Rebellion and Insurrection, and Casquejo is wanted for Homicide.

Government authorities also recovered in their possession two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), an M16 rifle, a Caliber .45 pistol with magazines and ammunitions, cellphones with sim cards, medical equipment, and subversive documents.

Meanwhile, troops of the 1002nd Brigade’s 73rd Infantry Battalion (IB) together with the Mapalatan Police Station, successfully recovered two IEDs, an M16 rifle, and two Carbine rifles after a former high-ranking CTG pointed the location of an arms cache at Sitio Bagyang, Barangay Upper Suyan, Malapatan, Sarangani Province on February 28.

An arms cache composed of an IED, an M16 rifle, and a M79 grenade launcher was also recovered after a member of the Milisyang Bayan (MB), who surrendered to the Community Support Program (CSP) Team of the 901st Brigade’s 30IB, revealed its location at Brgy. Magtangale, San Francisco, Surigao del Norte on March 1.

Another Anti-Personnel Mines (APMs) recovered by the troops of 1001st Brigade’s 25IB and PNP after unearthing the three IEDs buried by the CTG along National Irrigation Authority (NIA) Road in Purok 7, Barangay Basa, Trento, Agusan del Sur on March 2, following a report from the concerned citizens who noticed a protruding wire during a road rehabilitation in the said area, troops was successfully secured the community for their safe passage.

Troops from the 403rd Brigade’s 8IB conducting focused military operations also seized three IEDs, an M16 rifle with magazine and ammunitions, and a computer laptop after figuring in a 30-minute firefight with the CTG at Sitio Kilap-agan, Brgy. Can-ayan, Malaybalay City Bukidnon on March 3.

As of March 11 this year, EastMinCom has reported that a total of 48 APMs were already recovered by the troops which are almost half of the 97 recovered in 2021.

LtGen. Almerol said that this successful seizure of CTG’s explosives manifests the combined success of EastMinCom’s focused military operations and the National Task Force Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) efforts.

“We are gaining through the NTF-ELCAC’s development efforts in the former CTG mass bases and their genuine support to the surrenderees. This has paved for the cooperation of former rebels and the communities who share vital information, which led to the continued surrender and recovery of various firearms as well as IEDs,” he said.

LtGen. Almerol also condemned the CTG for its continued use of APMs that have long been banned by the Geneva Convention, the International Humanitarian Law, and the Republic Act 9851.

“The CTG’s incessant use of IEDs despite condemnation from civilians and the international community, show their carelessness towards the security of the civilians. They never halted using these explosives even though it has already cost the lives of innocent civilians like Keith Absalon who was ambushed and killed by the CTG in Masbate last year by detonating an IED,” LtGen. Almerol expressed.

The Commander likewise assured the public that the EastMinCom will persist in conducting focused military operations to further dwindle the CTG’s capability, especially in conducting bomb attacks. He also encouraged them to embrace the “culture of security” by reporting suspicious individuals and activities in their area to prevent atrocities.