ZAMBOANGA CITY: Joint military and police intelligence agents on Wednesday arrested a key leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) and his girlfriend while onvacation in Davao City, a known strongholdof the communist rebel group fighting for a separate state in the country.
Army Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said a composite team of intelligence operatives nabbed Roy Erecre, the secretary-general of the NPA in central Philippines, and his girlfriend Judith Niog.
He said Erecre—who has a P5 million bounty on his head—and his girlfriend were apparently in a holiday vacation and had been to different beach resorts and hotels in Davao region and unaware that undercover agents and informants had followed them throughout the week until their arrest on a village called Sasa. It was not immediately known who were coddling or protecting Erecre in Davao City, but the rebel group is actively operating there.
“The rebel leader was arrested with his girlfriend Judith Jaron-Niog after a week-long surveillance,” Caber told The Manila Times without further elaborating because security forces were still tracking down other rebels who were probably with Erecre in Davao City.
Caber did not say if weapons were seized from the rebel leader, whose group has been blamed for the spate of attacks against police and military targets in the central Philippines.
“Erecre was arrested by virtue of several non-bailable warrants from Cebu and Bohol provinces for atrocities against civilians and government forces since the late 1990s and he was also responsible in the ambush that killed two army lieutenants in Bohol,” he said.
Caber was referring to Lt. Socrates Que who was killed in March 2000 and Lt. Ronnie Bungaos in March 2003. He said Erecre also sits in the politburo of the Communist Party of the Philippines, whose chairman Benito Tiamzon, and secretary-general Wilma Tiamzon, were also arrested in Cebu in March this year.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, commander of the Eastern Min–danao Command, said Erecre is currently under interrogation. He also praised those involved in the operation that led Erecre’s capture.
“There is really no way out for rebels, either they die fighting for a senseless cause or they can surrender peacefully and avail of the government amnesty program, or be captured and jailed for the rest of their life. Peace is the only way and it is the only path to freedom,” said Cruz.
Just recently, security forces captured regional NPA commander Felix Armodia in his hideout at San Roque village in Tampakan, South Cotabato.