Cagayan de Oro City – The rebel New People’s Army Guerrilla Front 16 operating in Surigao del Norte Province on Thursday refuted a claim by the Philippine Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion that a person arrested by government forces was a high-ranking NPA leader, pointing out that that person had left the revolutionary movement years ago.
Philippine Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion based in Surigao del Norte claimed that the arrested person, identified as Arpel Rabago, also known as Ka Yoyo, allegedly vice commander of an NPA platoon under GF16, was arrested at a joint Philippine National Police (PNP) checkpoint in Surigao City Wednesday afternoon.
2Lt Jonel Castillo, Civil Military Operation Officer (CMO) of the 30IB, said: “Rabago’s arrest was by virtue of an arrest warrant issued by Surigao City Judicial Branch Court for cases of multiple attempted murder and frustrated murder.”
A report provided by the Philippine National Police (PNP) stated that the alleged ranking NPA guerrilla was arrested along the KM14 mark of the national highway in Barangay Trinidad, Surigao City at around 5 o’clock in the afternoon of July 5, 2017.
Additional data about Rabago suggest that Rabago is wanted with an arrest warrant issued by the Regional Trail Court Branch 32 Judge Dan Calderon for frustrated murder on October 21, 2013 and another warrant of arrest for multiple attempted murder issued by the late Judge Victor Canoy of RTC branch 29 on November 27, 2015. Adding to the track record are charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
“Ka Yoyo is responsible for the series of harassments and extortion in certain parts of the province. He led a numerous attacks against government troops conducting peace and development activities in the towns of Malimono, San Francisco and Surigao City during the previous years,” Castillo pointed out.
Lt. Col. Allen Tomas, Commander of 30IB, added that the arrest of Rabago is a wake up call to other NPA members: “It is the right time to lay down your arms and be with the Government.”
The NPA GF16 command pointed out, “Ka Yoyo left the NPA back in October of 2014 for various personal reasons. The person was not even a ranking official as claimed by the army. He is not a so-called vice commander, but he just a squad leader within the GF16-B.
“After Rabago left the NPA, we heard that he went to Manila and then when he returned to his home in Sitio Upper Sangay in Barangay Anomar, he got entangled in several issues in the community related to his drinking habits,” said Ka Oto, spokesperson of the NPA’s GF16.
Ka Oto stated further that he believes that the rank of Rabago was made to appear higher to insinuate a bigger price on his head.
“We don’t even know if the alleged arrest or capture is really true, or if we are being made to believe that he was captured. Rabago has been living with the people in his community for several months and has been the subject of several complaints for his drinking habits. He might have struck a deal with the authorities, so it is really hard to just take these claims as truth,” he concluded.