A top leader of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) based in Negros Occidental was captured over the weekend during an operation by a joint military and police team.
Maj. Roy Tiongson, spokesman of the Third Infantry Division (ID), on Sunday identified the rebel leader as Victor Tapang, alleged former commanding officer of the NPA’s Sentro de Grabidad Platoon and current member of the taxation bureau of the Northern Negros Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros.
Tapang was arrested in the vicinity of Hacienda Imbang, La Purisima Concepcion, Barangay E. Lopez, Silay City by virtue of warrants of arrest for murder issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Carlos City and robbery in band issued by Branch 60 of the Cadiz City RTC.
Tapang’s murder case pertained to an ambush staged by his team that reportedly resulted in the death of two civilians and the wounding of two others in Barangay Salamanca, Toboso, Negros Occidental on July 13, 2009.
Tapang, together with two other unidentified companions, were on board a motorcycle when flagged down by a joint military and police team. His companions were able to elude arrest.
Seized from Tapang were a Cal .45 MK IV series 80 pistol with one magazine loaded with six live ammunition and two rifle grenades.
Col. Jon Aying, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia, Negros Occidental, said that the arrest of Tapang would worsen the leadership crisis in the hierarchy of the CPP-NPA.
“They are now considered to be a weak organization and with that, we hope to end the insurgency here in Negros,” Aying claimed.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, commander of the Third ID, attributed the successful arrest of Tapang to the joint efforts of the military and police.
“We are once again openly reaching out to our long lost brothers in the CPP-NPA to go down and abandon the armed struggle,” Baladad said.
“Likewise, we are calling at our level, the local leaders of the CPP-NPA in the region to talk with the local government leaders and the military,” he added.
Tapang is now detained at the Silay Philippine National Police station while authorities are preparing charges for illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives.