57 nabbed in overnight raids on militant groups’ offices

Gilbert Bayoran - The Philippine Star

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines —At least 57 persons were arrested in simultaneous raids on a house and offices of militant groups in this city and in Escalante City from Thursday night until yesterday morning.

Romulo Bito-on of Bayan Muna and his wife Mermalyn; John Milton Lozande, secretary-general of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers, Proceso Quiatchon of Karapatan, and Noli Rosales and Albert dela Serna of the Kilusang Mayo Uno were among those arrested.

The raids were based on search warrants issued by Quezon City Regional Executive Judge Ceciline Burgos Villabert.

Personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Regional Mobile Force Battalion, Special Weapons and Tactics, Philippine Army and local police conducted the raids in Barangays 33, Bata and Taculing in this city and Balintawak and Jonob in Escalante.

Capt. Cenon Pancito III, spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Division, said four fragmentation grenades, 32 hand guns, seven rifle grenades, two Claymore mines,  various types of ammunition, subversive documents, bladed weapons and camouflage uniforms were among those recovered in the raids.

Pancito said 15 of those arrested were minors. He said the raided offices were used as “training centers” of New People’s Army recruits to become “child warriors.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate condemned the “dastardly Gestapo-like raid.”

Karapatan described the raids as part of the ”full-blown crackdown on red-tagged legal organizations.”

Those arrested said the  raiding team planted the recovered guns and explosives. – With Jaime Laude, Romina Cabrera

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