NPA leader killed, minor rescued in Agusan Sur clash

BUTUAN CITY – A sub-commander of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) was killed and two others were captured following a firefight with the joint forces of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Agusan del Sur, an official said Monday.

Lt. Col. Romeo Jimenea, commander of the Army's 26th Infantry Battalion, said they received a request from the San Luis Municipal Police Station for the arrest of Ronnie Rocero, a vice-commander of the NPA's Milisya ng Bayan (MB) in the area and allegedly the acting vice squad leader for the rebels' Guerrilla Front 88 (GF-88).

"After confirmation by the police and our intelligence, we immediately planned out the arrest of Rocero,” said Jimenea, adding that the law enforcement operation was conducted on the evening of May 16 (Saturday) in Barangay Don Alejandro, San Luis town.

 As the Army and PNP operatives were approaching the vicinity, Jimenea said an undetermined number of NPA combatants opened fire, resulting in a five-minute encounter with government forces.

Jimenea said the encounter resulted in the killing of Rocero, the capture of an NPA combatant identified as Eric P. Acita, and the rescue of a wounded NPA combatant who is a minor.

Government forces also recovered a KG9 sub-machine gun pistol, one .45-caliber pistol and two hand grenades at the encounter site.

The wounded minor was immediately rushed to Agusan del Sur Provincial Hospital for treatment while the captured NPA was turned over to San Luis PNP for documentation and filing of charges.

The cadaver of Rocero was brought to Rosario, Agusan del Sur for proper disposition, Jimenea said.

He said Rocero was allegedly involved in the series of atrocities and the killing of indigenous people (IP) leaders who refused to support the communist rebel movement.

Jimenea said Rocero was also involved in the killing of Robincio C. Salamorin, the chairperson of Barangay San Pedro in San Luis, Agusan del Sur on February last year.

In a separate statement, Police Regional Office (PRO) 13 (Caraga) director, Brig. Gen. Joselito T. Esquivel, Jr. said Rocero had six standing warrants of arrest for murder, multiple attempted murder, and frustrated murder.

Esquivel said PRO-13 is also preparing the charges against the leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the National Democratic Front (NDF), and the NPA for violating the provisions of Republic Act 7610 or Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, and trafficking in persons.

The captured NPA rebel, he said, will be facing charges for attempted murder and in violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act in addition to violations of R.A. 7610, R.A. 10364 and R.A. 9851.

“The rescued 14-year-old boy who was exploited by the CNN (CPP-NDF-NPA) is now properly taken care of and will be turned over to local Social Welfare and Development (LSWD) for proper intervention,” Esquivel said.

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