12 suspected NPA arrested in Batangas checkpoint
Twelve suspected communist rebels were arrested in a checkpoint in Batangas following an encounter with government security forces, the military said on Tuesday.
Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Melchor Durante said authorities flagged down a jeepney carrying the alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) around 10 a.m. on Monday, following a skirmish with government soldiers around 8 a.m. in Brgy. Utod in Nasugbu town.
“Appropriate charges will be filed against the said 12 individuals upon further verification. They are now under custody of PNP Nasugbu,” Durante noted.
Quoting 202nd Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos, Durante said “the checkpoint was set up in order to prevent the armed terrorist from fleeing from the encounter site.”
Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno, acting commander of Southern Luzon Command, said the “terrorists” are still hiding within the vicinity of the encounter site.
But human rights group Karapatan claimed the arrested individuals were members of their quick reaction team (QRT) led by Batangas Human Rights Alliance.
“The nine individuals were members of farmers’ groups Habagat and the Samahang ng Pinagkaisang Damdamin ng Brgy. Quisumbing from Calaca and Lian, Batangas,” Karapatan pointed out in a Facebook post on Monday night.
“The QRT delegation was first stopped this morning at a PNP checkpoint at Banana St., Brgy. 6, Nasugbu, Batangas. They were brought to the Nasugbu municipal hall for an alleged traffic violation. However, this evening, just when the QRT has been cleared by the police and was about to leave, soldiers from the PAF [Philippine Air Force] ordered the arrest of the ten as alleged members of the NPA,” it added.
A police report from Nasugbu, however, claimed that the vehicle was flagged down in the morning after members of the PNP said it was the same jeepney the suspected communist rebels boarded after the encounter.
At around 6:30 p.m. the police and soldiers who were involved in the encounter arrived at the police station where the suspected rebels were held, confirming that the passengers of the jeepney were part of the encounter, the report said.
The Batangas clash came days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced his plans to issue a proclamation tagging the NPA as a terrorist group. /kga
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