Two ranking female communist rebel leaders operating in the Caraga Region were arrested by a joint military and police force at a village in Quezon City at dawn Thursday.
Maj. Francisco Garello Jr., Public Affairs chief of the Western Mindanao Command, identified the arrested Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army officers as Juliet Gomez, alias “Tina,” 39, and Niezel Velasco, alias Mary Jane Velasco, 39.
Garello said the two were ranking officials of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) and were served warrants for murder and two attempted murders at Kaingin 1, Barangay Pansol, Quezon City.
Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., Commander of the 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division, said the fall of Gomez and Velasco was a result of the convergence of efforts of the Armed Forces, the Philippine National Police, and other law enforcement agencies.
Meanwhile, hundreds of barangays in the Ilocos region that were liberated from the clutches of the CPP-NPA will be the latest beneficiaries of development funds by a government task force tasked to clear the insurgency at the local level.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., vice chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said almost all the funds allocated for the Barangay Development Program have already been released by national government.
According to Esperon, 99 percent or P16.24 billion allotted for the BDP this 2021 have been released to provincial and city governments nationwide.
The third and final groundbreaking ceremony of the BDP took place in Ilocos Sur, where two barangays from Salcedo and Santo Domingo are receiving the P20 million worth of infrastructure projects each.
The barangays are receiving funds for various projects like the construction of farm-to-market roads, public toilets and school buildings, and cash assistance to the indigent.
Garello said both woman suspects had standing warrants issued by three court officials, two from Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte for murder with no bail recommended and two attempted murders with P100,000 and P120,000 in bail for Gomez and Velasco, respectively.
Garello said the authorities confiscated four M4 rifles, a 9mm pistol, ammunition, hand grenades, firearms, and accessories, including 10 rifle barrels, an NPA flag, cellphones, and documents.
“AFP-PNP troops tirelessly tracked down these CPP-NPA leaders. With the help of information from civilian residents, we were able to neutralize and finally bring them to justice to face their crimes for pestering communities and sabotaging the peace and development that the Caraganons were longing for,” Brawner Jr. said.