NPA couple arrested in Davao
MANILA, Philippines – The military and the police said they arrested two high-ranking leaders of the New People's Army (NPA) in Davao del Sur – couple Raunil Nudalo Mortejo and Jasmin Castor Badilla.
The military said their arrest is a big blow to the communist movement because it will result in a "vacuum of leadership" in the region where it has kept a strong presence. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
"The arrest is expected to create a huge vacuum in leadership of the CPP-NPA operating in Davao Region as these two are high-valued cadres which are very difficult for the communist movement to train and replace," said a statement issued Saturday, February 7, by the military's 10th Infantry Division (ID) under the command of Major General Eduardo Año.
The military said Mortejo is the commander of the Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 8 while Badilla is the head of the Regional Medical Staff of the NPA in Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).
Known by the aliases Nestor or Angkol and Antali, respectively, they have outstanding warrants of arrest for alleged kidnapping, serious illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons issued by a regional trial court in nearby province Compostela Valley.
The military said Mortejo led the NPA unit that kidnapped a soldier in Compostela Valley in June 2010. He is also blamed for the murder of two soldiers in Davao Oriental in October 2014.
Badilla, on the other hand, is facing charges of robbery and alleged intimidation of a chairman of a cooperative in Compostela Valley – Efren Cagumbay of the Mampising CARP Beneficiaries Multi-purpose Cooperative in barangay Tagnanan of Mabini town.
The military claimed they found the following weapons in their possession: one improvised explosive device, one M33 fragmentation grenade, and one caliber .45 pistol loaded with 7 rounds live ammunitions.
Based on military estimates, the NPA is down to about 4,000 members nationwide. Half of this number is in the area of Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), where clashes between government forces and communist rebels regularly erupt.
Two generals particularly notorious among the left were assigned to lead Eastmincom. Eastmincom chief Major General Aurelio Baladad was dragged in the "Morong 43," who were supposedly health workers and not communist insurgents.
Año himself, chief of the 10th ID, was the former chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) when top communist leaders, the Tiamzon couple, were arrested last year.
The government and the CPP have been trying to return to the negotiating table to resume peace talks. – Rappler.com
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