Church leader arrested with 'most wanted' NPA commander in Ozamiz
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - The head of a diocese of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) in Ozamiz City was arrested Thursday night, May 11, along with the "most wanted" commander of the communist New People's Army (NPA) in Mindanao.
Bishop Carlos Morales was one of the companions of Rommel Salinas, tagged by the military as a high-ranking communist leader, when their maroon Starex van was flagged down at a checkpoint in barangay Gango, Ozamiz City.
The bishop said he does not know Salinas. He said he and his family were on their way to an IFI diocese when Salinas asked to hitch a ride.
“It was raining and he was carrying plenty of bags. I took pity on him so I let him ride with us,” Morales said.
Morales said the security forces initially arrested only Salinas. But he said he and his wife decided to accompany him to the police station when they learned that he was a consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the group talking peace with the government on behalf of the rebels.
It was then that he said they were also handcuffed and accused of conniving with Salinas.
“We were not arrested by the police and was even told to go, but when I heard that he (Salinas) was an NDF consultant, I was intrigued and accompanied him to the police station,” the church official said.
Police regional spokesperson Superintendent Lemuel Gonda said Salinas was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for destructive arson, murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder and robbery.
Salinas was allegedly in possession of a hand grenade when he was arrested. Several mobile phones, a map of Misamis Occidental, a Lenovo tablet, and a National Democratic Front (NDF) identification card were also confiscated.
It is not clear if charges will also be filed against Morales and his wife. – Gualberto Laput and Bobby Lagsa
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