By TARA YAP • AARON RECUENCO
ILOILO CITY – Seven alleged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed in a shootout with joint forces of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police (PNP) in San Jose, the capital town of Antique province Wednesday.
According to a report from the Police Regional Office (PRO-6), the incident occurred when San Jose PNP, led by Police Superintendent Mark Anthony Darroca, was serving a warrant of arrest against NPA rebels Joven Ceralvo (alias “Lex”) and Jason Talibo (alias “Bebe”) in Atabay village.
But Ceralvo, Talibo and their group opened fire, leading police to call on troops from the Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61 IB) led by Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot Jr.
A firefight ensued for around 33 minutes until both cops and soldiers had killed the seven rebels, who were believed to belong to NPA’s Napoleon Tumagtang Command of Southern Front Panay.
Also killed were Liezl Badiola (alias “Mayang”), Karen Ceralvo (alias “Liway”), Jason Sanchez. The other two fatalities have not yet been identified.
Government forces recovered from the scene grenades, firearms, cellphones, laptops, and several extortion letters.
Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, director of the Western Visayas regional police, said the confiscation of subversive documents and extortion letters bearing the letterhead of the NPA are but some additional proof that the slain people were communist rebels engaged in extortion activities in the province.
The official said the letterhead was that of Tumagtang Command, the letters are sent to various persons and local companies operating in the region.
“We also recovered list of persons and companies being extorted and the bankbooks which are apparently where the money are being deposited,” said Bulalacao.
The slain rebels, according to Bulalacao, came from various parts of the region, including Iloilo, Aklan and Negros Occidental.
The operation against the communist rebels was the biggest for the government this year in terms of casualties following the series of attacks carried out by the NPA in various parts of the country after the peace talks had bogged down, the recent was the siege of a police station in Northern Samar.
Meantime 15 police officers of a police station in Sara town, Iloilo province have been sacked for abandoning their posts during duty hours.
Senior Superintendent Marlon Tayaba, director of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO), said the decision came after three different random inspections found that police officers who are supposed to be on duty were not physically inside the police station.
“Some went home. Some went to their children’s school. They were not there. They were doing personal matters during duty hours,” Tayaba noted.
The 15 cops relieved have been reassigned to different police stations across Iloilo province.