ZAMBOANGA CITY: Military forces arrested a ranking New People’s Army (NPA) leader in Western Mindanao, a bishop, and two others along a checkpoint in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental.
Officials identified the rebel leader as Rommel Salinas, wanted for a string of murder cases and other high-profile crimes in Western Mindanao. A grenade was recovered by security forces from Salinas.
The rebel leader is also known for his aliases “Vencio,” “Beto,” “Carlos,” “Doming,” “Artem” and “Mark.”
Salinas was with Bishop Carlo Morales of the Philippine Independent Church. Also arrested were Morales’ wife, Maria Teofina, and their driver Sadome Dalid.
Security forces flagged down the suspects’ van on Thursday evening at a checkpoint in Barangay Gango, Ozamiz City based on intelligence information that they were transporting a rebel leader.
Authorities said the suspects did not resist arrest and are being investigated separately by the police. It was not known why Morales and his wife were with the NPA leader or if they were protecting Salinas.
Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, said the arrest of Salinas was the result of long intelligence work.
“Best coordination work from the community, LGU (local government units), PNP (Philippine National Police, and the Army led to the capture of one of the highest ranking CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) leader in Western Mindanao,” he said in a statement following the capture of Salinas.
The NPA, which is currently negotiating peace with the Philippine government, did not issue any statement.