ZAMBOANGA CITY– Security forces have stepped up its operations against the communist rebel group New People’s Army (NPA) in Zamboanga Peninsula following the capture of two senior insurgent leaders in Pagadian City, officials said.
Officials said troops and policemen tightened security in the region and put up additional checkpoints in an effort to preempt any rebel attacks. Just over the weekend, policemen, backed by army soldiers captured Leonardo Jacotin and Rosario Tabanao in their hideout in the village of Balangasan following a tip from informants.
Troops also recovered a fragmentation grenade, a .45-caliber pistol and a magazine loaded with eight bullets, 50 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 10 assorted identification cards and 17 cell phones.
Brig. Gen. Jacinto Bareng, commander of the 102nd Infantry Brigade, said the duo has warrants of arrest and were facing multiple criminal charges, including murder. He said Jacotin was the NPA’s logistic officer for western Mindanao, and Tabanao, the group’s finance officer.
“The NPA top leaders are responsible for robbery, large-scale extortion activities, proliferation of illegal firearms and explosives, and murder cases in the area,” he said.
The NPA has been fighting for many decades now in an effort to overthrow the democratic government and install its own communist state in the country. President Rodrigo Duterte, who previously supported the rebel group, has threatened to blacklist the NPA and its allied political groups and among them is the leftist organization called Bayan, for the string of deadly attacks on civilians and government targets across the Philippines. AL JACINTO