BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Camp Gerona has described the capture of three ranking rebels in the northern Negros Occidental town of Calatrava as part of steps taken by government to make them face the courts over a string of crimes they have committed.
Captain Mervin Rosal, civil military officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, said the trio is behind the “atrocities” in Calatrava and surrounding areas ranging from murder to arson to extortion activities.
“The apprehension of the three personalities identified as NPAs is the prompt response of the government forces to make those responsible for the atrocities like murder, arson, and extortion activities in Northern Negros face the bar of justice,” he said a dispatch after his counterpart in the 79th, Second Lieutenant Aprilyn Lonjawon, confirmed in a dispatch from Sagay City the capture of the three.
Lonjawon said Felix Susas alias Budok and Rigor is the secretary of the dismantled Northern Negros Front who was captured along with his deputies – Cheryl Catalogo alias Celo, a staff for education; and Jalen Susas alias Cristel/Izumi/ who is the acting finance officer but is also a medical and education staff.
The three were nabbed in a joint operation by their troopers and counterinsurgency policemen from the First Provincial Mobile Force Company, the Sixth Special Action Force Battalion and local police from Toboso and Calatrava towns in the upland village of Cambayobo in Calatrava 100 kilometers north of here.
Their capture in the community of Pinamactinan in that village on the evening of 6 January 2023 also led to the seizure of three pistols, ammunitions and rifle grenades.
Lonjawon said Susas has an arrest warrant for violating Philippine firearm laws issued by a regional trial court in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, and is also facing a charge for homicide before a court in Silay City, Negros Occidental.
Police have also charged him for the death of two civilians – Renato Estrebillo and Benjamin Javoc, a village chief – both in Calatrava town.
Estrebillo was killed in Marcelo village on 12 August 2022 while Javoc was slain two weeks later in Lalong village.
The rest of the dispatch of the 79th reads:
Lieutenant Colonel J-jay Javines, Commanding Officer of 79IB attributed the success of the said operation to the concerted efforts of the Philippine Army and PNP units in Negros backed by the support of the local residents who provided timely information about the presence of armed men conducting extortion and recruitment activities in Brgy Cambayobo and its adjacent barangays.
He also called on the remnants of the defunct NNF (D) to lay down their arms, live a normal life with their families and avail the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
“We are more than willing to welcome you back into the mainstream society. Our government has laid programs for rebels who wish to surrender, such as E-CLIP. For those who do not wish to surrender, we will relentlessly hunt you down until you will have no other option but to lay down your arms and surrender or die fighting for a futile cause”, Lt.Col Javines added.