SANTIAGO CITY, Isabela: A top ranking official of the Cagayan Valley Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), wanted for murder and ambush of policemen, was arrested in Peñablanca town.
According to the Cagayan police regional office, David Soriano, alias Ka Colly, is the regional secretary of the Komiteng Rehiyon ng Hilagang Silangan ng Luzon of the CPP-NPA-NDF Northern Front Committee.
Soriano was arrested in Barangay Camasi at about 5:45 p.m. last Saturday by joint operatives of Region 2 police and the Philippine Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion of the 502 Brigade, 5th Infantry Division but was reported only on Friday.
Also arrested with Soriano was Jude Malana Cipriano, the driver of Starex van (WML 500) when it intercepted by the operatives along the provincial road in Peñablanca.
Seized from them were two 9 mm service pistols found to be Philippine National Police (PNP)-issued, a fragmentation grenade, a rifle grenade and various subversive documents.
Police said Soriano is also the most wanted person in the region for his involvement in several high-profile crimes. He was tagged as the executioner of former mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. of Gonzaga town on April 21, 2014.
In 2013, authorities said his rebel unit in Allacapan town ambushed a platoon of unarmed policemen on their way to their annual physical fitness examination, killing at least eight police officers and wounding seven others.
Police said Sorano, alias Colly, matched the image captured in Gonzaga town hall’s close circuit television of the man seen shooting the mayor before terrified officials and employees during the early morning flag ceremony.
Intelligence reports show Soriano moves around a very large area of operation that includes the towns of Baggao, Gattaran, Amulung, Alcala, Santo Niño, Rizal, Lasam, Allacapan, Gonzaga, Santa Terisita, Aparri, Claveria, Ballesteros, Abulug, Pamplona and Sanchez Mira in Cagayan Valley.
In Apayao, Soriano operates in the towns of Calanasan Flora, Pudtol and Santa Marcela, according to police intelligence reports.
In February last year, Soriano was one of the suspected masterminds in the ambush of police personnel in Baggao town that killed at least six officers and wounded 10 others.
The operatives were on their way to investigate reported atrocities in Baggao including the burning by NPA rebels of heavy construction equipment in the area.
At 5 p.m. before Soriano and Cipriano were arrested, some 30 communist rebels attacked a police sub-station in Amulung town and took away four M-16 firearms and two 9 mm service pistols.
In a statement, Fernan Cagayan, media liaison for NDF-Cagayan said it is the NPA’s Henry Abraham Command that staged the “successful raid” in Barangay Annafatan.
It said, “The successful raid happened as the PNP illegally arrested David Soriano, whom they are wrongfully alleging as the ‘regional number one cadre’ of Cagayan Valley,” adding that Soriano and Cipriano were “unduly arrested.”
However, police claim it was a diversionary move by the NPA rebels claiming they even tortured the police personnel at the substation and burned the police Mahindra patrol vehicle before escaping.