THE Philippine Army announced it has arrested a ranking officer of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) allegedly in charge of “indiscriminate” enforced ‘taxation’ or “extortion activities” in Negros Occidental.
Information forwarded to this writer identified the suspect as Reymark Pedro, 23, a native of Sipalay town who also goes by the aliases, ‘Ka Bobby/Recoy and Reymark Labrador.’
2nd Lt. Elnard Alde, platoon leader of the Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion, 303rd Army Brigade, said they cornered Pedro inside a store in Sitio Gusnit, Bgy. Pinggot, Ilog town, after a “hot pursuit operation” last Saturday, May 26.
The suspect’s six other accomplices, including two women, however, managed to elude arrest.
Aside from a 9mm pistol confiscated from Pedro, Alde said they also seized P3,050 cash, assorted ammunition, “subversive documents” and several “extortion letters” bearing the seal and logo of the NPA’s Armando Sumayang Command.
The documents also disclosed that Pedro has just completed the ‘intermediate course’ for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and that he has been cited for his marksmanship and given an award as “best officer” from the NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, which is in charge of all rebel activities in the island province.
For his part, Brig. Gen. Eliezer Tomales, 303rd Brigade commander, assailed the NPA for their “indiscriminate” extortion activities in the island. “It’s not just the businessmen and politicians they extort money from. Even small, ‘sari-sari’ stores are not safe if they don’t give support to the NPA,” Tomales pointed out.
He averred the unabated extortion activities by the guerillas in Negros Occidental are netting them at least P25 million a year.
The Army official also lauded “the support of the public apparently fed up with NPA extortion activities in the area.”
“The people are a big help and we feel our citizens’ sincerity with each piece of information that we received from them,” Tomales said.