Rebels say carpenter held by cops not one of their own | Inquirer News

Rebels say carpenter held by cops not one of their own

/ 12:03 AM May 07, 2014

ANTIMINING activist Romeo Rivera Jr., a carpenter, is held at the Digos City police station following his arrest on the suspicion that he is actually Felix Armodia, a top New People’s Army leader in Southern Mindanao. ORLANDO DINOY/INQUIRER MINDANAO

DIGOS CITY—Communist rebels have disowned an antimining activist who has been arrested by government agents and accused of being a top New People’s Army (NPA) leader in Southern Mindanao.

In a statement, Efren Aksasato, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Southern Mindanao, said on Monday that Romeo Rivera Jr. and Felix Armodia were not the same person.


Rivera was arrested by police in Tampakan, South Cotabato province, on May 2 on the basis of warrants for murder and other crimes attributed to Armodia.


Rivera is an antimining activist leading the fight against the delayed operations of a mining site in Tampakan, South Cotabato, by the foreign-led mining firm Sagittarius Mines.

Armodia is the secretary general of an NPA unit in Southern Mindanao.

Rivera is currently detained at the police holding cell here while awaiting transfer to a regular jail.

Lt. Col. Marcos Norman Flores, head of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade, said Rivera and Armodia were one and the same person. Rivera, Flores said, was one of Armodia’s aliases.

“We are 100-percent sure that he is the high-ranking official of the NPA whom we have been hunting down. Rivera is Armodia,” Flores said.

Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, Davao del Sur police chief, said Rivera was turned over to Davao del Sur authorities after his arrest in South Cotabato because he faces charges in courts in the province.


Dubria said Rivera, as Armodia, led the March 10 attack on the Matanao police office, during which two policemen were killed.

Flores said it was also Rivera’s group that was involved in a clash with soldiers in Matanao, also on March 10.

“He was also responsible for the series of attacks on plantations and construction firms in the region that do not give in to their extortion demands,” Flores said.

But NDF spokesperson Aksasato said Rivera was not Armodia.

He said Armodia was “safe with our comrades in the guerrilla front.”

Emily Lopez, of the environmental group Panalipdan, said the 52-year-old Rivera was a carpenter by profession.

She said Rivera was also an active member of Panalipdan, which has been opposing the Tampakan mining venture.

Rivera, Aksasato said, was just a “fall guy” and victim of sloppy intelligence work by the military.

Supt. Querubin Manalang, city police director, said it was up to Rivera’s lawyers to prove his innocence in court.

“In the meantime, he is considered to be Armodia and will be treated as a high-risk prisoner,” Manalang said.

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“He will have his day in court,” Flores said. Reports from Eldie Aguirre and Orlando Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao

TAGS: Insurgency, News, NPA, Regions

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