NPA leader nabbed in Negros Oriental
MANLA, Philippines - A leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the sixth most wanted person in the country was arrested by security forces in Negros Oriental Tuesday, the military said.
Army reports said Filemon Mendrez, the head of NPA forces in Negros, was nabbed by members of the 302nd brigade and the local police in barangay Tubod in Manjuyod town at about 10 a.m.
The arrest happened on the sixth day of the 27-day holiday ceasefire between the government and the NPA. Security officials, however, maintain that law enforcement operations against persons facing criminal raps are not covered by the truce.
Col. Francisco Patrimonio, chief of the Army’s 302nd brigade, said Mendrez has pending robbery and rebellion cases.
Mendrez is included in the joint reward list issued by the Defense and Interior departments. He has a P5.25-million bounty on his head
Known by the aliases “Tatay” and “Edon,” Mendrez was the former head of Front Committee 2 in Central Visayas. He also served as deputy head of the Central Visayas Revolutionary Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
"Law enforcement operations shall continue even as we observe a suspension of offensive military operations and ceasefire. This is part of your security forces' (efforts to protect) communities, government and private establishments", said Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr., chief of the Army's 3rd division.
The holiday ceasefire between the military and the NPA started last Dec. 20 and will end on Jan. 15.
"The arrest will certainly give a better opportunity for us in Central Visayas to celebrate the holidays more peacefully," Mabanta added.
Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc thanked the civilians who provided information that led to Mendrez’s arrest.
“The people are fed up by the abuses committed by the NPA rebels. By helping the government forces arrest these wanted persons, we will see the gradual demise of the communist insurgency,” he said.