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Top NPA leader arrested, 8 others yield and linked government official to rebel group

DAVAO CITY – Security forces arrested a senior communist rebel leader in-charge of distribution of so-called revolutionary taxes to various fronts in southern Philippines, officials announced Saturday.

Officials said 8 other rebels also surrendered to the military in the restive region where security forces are battling insurgents and terrorism.

Major Ezra Balagtey, an army spokesman, said Leonidad Guao alias Laya – a member of the New People’s Army – was nabbed by soldiers and policemen on Friday afternoon in the village of Bading in Butuan City. “The arrested terrorist leader is the finance officer of the NPA in the whole of Mindanao,” he said, adding, Guao is currently being interrogated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

She is facing murder charges in Agusan del Sur province, according to Balagtey, who said civilians tipped off the military of Guao’s presence in Butuan City. “With the help of the community, the arrest was made by virtue of warrant of arrest issued by Regional Trial Court Branch-7 in Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur,” Balagtey said.

Army Lieutenant General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, praised the arrest of Guao, saying, the cooperation of the different enforcement agencies and the community that led to the rebel leader’s arrest.

“The arrest gives justice to the victims of their atrocities, particularly those indigenous people they brutally killed, the common people who have been victimized by their extortion and terroristic activities, and those who have lost their livelihood brought about by their arson and sabotage activities.”

“This arrest is a result of the cooperation of the whole community and the different law enforcement agencies. It also proves that the terrorists cannot run away from the long arm of the law,” he said.

Eight NPA fighters, mostly tribal members, also yielded to authorities in Sultan Kudarat’s Bagumbayan town on Friday. During interrogation, three of the rebels have linked a local government official to the NPA, according to Major General Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, whose unit initially investigated them.

Dela Vega did not identify the government official, but quoting the interrogation report, said the official facilitated the organization of tribal members as NPA fighters and provided sanctuary to 2 rebel leaders in his house.

There was no immediate statement from the NPA or the Department of the Interior and Local Government linking a government official to the rebel group which has been fighting for a separate state for many decades now. (Mindanao Examiner) 

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