LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Three suspected members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) Chadli Molintas command who were allegedly part of a team that burned two brand new trucks of the Philex Mining Corporation at Tapac, Ampucao, Itogon, Thursday morning were charged for arson, robbery and illegal possession of ammunitions before the provincial prosecutors office here.
Police authorities identified the charged NPA rebels as Sarah Abellon, Promencio Cortez and Marciano Sagun, who were caught by police operatives in a checkpoint during a subsequent hot pursuit operation after committing the crime in Gilbraltar, Baguio City where their transient house was reportedly located.
Police and military intelligence reports show that Abellon who is said to be the secretary of the Sub-Regional Military Area Command (SMAC) is in charge with extortion activities of the NPA on big projects, and Cortez who carries a 4.8 million peso reward for his arrest are high ranking officials of the communist group.
Police claimed prior to the burning incident, the rebels were planning to raid the mining firm and cart away all firearms of the security guards of the company based in various locations.
However, realizing that their plans can no longer materialize, the three persons arrested, who were part of the NPA group were simply contended with just burning the two Volvo trucks rather than gaining nothing from their failed operation.
On the other hand, the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) of Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) conducted search in the transient house rented by the suspects and were able to recover personal belongings, several gadgets, assorted ammunitions and P 850,000 thousand cash believed to be revolutionary tax collection of Abellon also being used as operational fund of the NPA to carry out atrocities in line with the Communist Party’s declaration of an all-out war.
Furthermore, continuous investigation and intensified information gathering are being undertaken to have a clearer picture of the whereabouts of the other members of the rebel group and thwart any possible plans they might pursue in any part of the region.
Combined police and military forces are also conducting hot pursuit operations against the insurgents who scampered for safety in various parts of Tuba and Itogon towns after setting on fire the two Philex trucks that were loaded with ore concentrate and bound for San Fernando City, La Union at that time.
Concerned residents claimed that there were series of gun fights between the fleeing rebels and the pursuing police and military operatives in Cap 4, Tuba Thursday afternoon and extended up to Friday morning amidst the denial of military authorities on the existence of encounters between the military and the rebels in the said area.
Philex officials claimed the company never received extortion letters from the NPA command operating in the province before the arson incident that would justify their acts of burning their trucks.
By Dexter A. See