BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – A ranking regional Army officer has claimed that spokesman of the New People’s Army is on the run as he described the rebels as getting “frustrated” due to the dwindling mass support for them.
Army Captain Kim Apitong, public affairs chief of the 3rd Infantry Division, told DNX Juanito Magbanua whom he described as a “terrorist,” is now “on the run” after police and soldiers served an arrest warrant for homicide against him in an upland village in Isabela town over the weekend, 19 February 2022.
Magbanua, who was identified in the warrant as Romeo Nanta, escaped, however but a young woman who was with him was arrested.
The 303rd Infantry Brigade said in a dispatch that Harlyn Balora, who it claimed uses the nom de guerre “Karyll” was arrested for having in her possession pistols and a grenade, a violation of the country’s Firearms and Explosives Act.
The Army claimed Balora is a resident here and a member of an activist youth group.
Apitong said Nanta is now trying to escape authorities who are hot on his heels after the joint police-Army operations in Kamang-kamang village.
Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade chief, reacting to the developments, said “all statements coming from these leftist groups or organizations were fabricated lies and propaganda just to cover-up the clear violations of the arrested Harlyn Balora,” as he pointed out that the service of the arrest warrant was a “legal Joint AFP-PNP Law Enforcement operation. There was no human rights violations nor illegal arrest that occurred during the incident.”
Apitong added this development and the recent killing of civilians, including a father and his son in an upland village in Vallehermoso town, show that the NPA is getting “frustrated” because of the lack of public support.
He said the slay of Lucio Perater, 61, and his son, Fernando, the husband and son, respectively of Malangsa village chief, Beatrice, proved this frustration.
Third Infantry Division chief, Major General Benedict Arevalo, condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the killing.
“We strongly condemn the killing of innocent civilians by the NPAs. In collaboration with the PNP, we assure the Negrenses that this kind of terrorism will never go unpunished,” he said.