Soldiers nab 11 suspected NPA rebels in permit-to-campaign drive in Bulacan
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga—Government soldiers, accompanied by some policemen, captured at least 11 suspected communist rebels in Bulacan on Friday for possessing nine guns and letters demanding money from local candidates so they could campaign in remote villages in the municipality of Doña Remedios Trinidad, an Army official in Central Luzon said.
Major General Pio Gregorio Catapang, chief of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, said eight men were caught by the 56th Infantry Battalion on Friday morning in the villages of Mahangin and Sapang Linao and three more were found in a van in Sapang Linao Friday night.
Catapang denied an allegation by a mayoral candidate that the 11 were “goons” of the incumbent mayor.
“That remains to be established in an investigation. But as things stand now, we have seized from the suspects campaign-to-permit letters from the New People’s Army,” he told the Inquirer in a telephone interview on Saturday.
Catapang said that at 4:30 a.m. Friday the military received a report about the presence of 30 armed NPA rebels in the two villages.
“An informant said these armed groups, which have been sending permit-to-campaign letters to local political candidates, are planning to establish checkpoints as well as ambush uncooperative political candidates as ordered by [Communist Party of the Philippines]-NPA hierarchy,” Colonel Bernardo Ona, commander of the 56th IB, said in a report.
Aside from finding permit-to-campaign letters, the soldiers and policemen recovered three .45-caliber pistols, four hand grenades and a shotgun. They recovered from the van two M-14 rifles and three M-16 rifles, Ona said.
Catapang said the suspects were turned over to the police and were now detained at the Doña Remedios Trinidad police station.
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