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Freeman Region

Two officers of NPA-Negros arrested

Jennifer P. Rendon and Marchel P. Espina - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Two high-ranking New People's Army (NPA) officers were nabbed in two operations by the military and the police in Negros Occidental in a span of three days after Feb. 15.

The first one, Victor Tapang, was arrested Saturday at Silay City in Negros Occidental, and then on Feb. 17, the police caught Romulo Bitoon at a checkpoint in Talisay City, also in Negros Occidental.

Soldiers and policemen arrested Tapang by virtue of arrest warrants, one for murder issued by the Regional Trial Court-branch 58 in San Carlos City and another for robbery in band issued by Judge Renato Nuñez of the RTC-branch 60 in Cadiz City.

Law enforcers recovered from Tapang's possession a .45-caliber pistol with a magazine loaded with six live bullets and two rifle grenades.

A former rebel, who tipped authorities off about Tapang's presence, said the latter is now a member of the taxation bureau of the Northern Negros Front of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros of the NPA.

Major Ray Tiongson, spokesman of the 3rd Infantry Division, said Tapang, before the arrest, reportedly came from a meeting with Christian Tuayon, secretary general of Bayan Muna-Negros and Clarissa Singson, secretary general of Karapatan-Negros at the house of Silay City Councilor Joedith Gallego.

Tuayon however denied knowing Tapang, adding that he was never in a meeting with the NPA leader.

Tapang is now detained at the Silay Police Station and was also charged with illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

Three days after in Talisay City, the police arrested Bitoon at a checkpoint, by virtue of an arrest warrant for murder issued by RTC-Cadiz City Judge Munez

Chief Insp. Joresty Coronica, Talisay City Police chief, said Bitoon, who was reportedly a top-ranking officer of the NPA, was identified through his identification cards taken from him. 

Colonel John Aying, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade, based in Murcia town of Negros Occidental, said the arrests will add up to the leadership crisis in the hierarchy of the CPP-NPA, which he said is deemed a "weak organization" now.  — (FREEMAN)

BAYAN MUNA-NEGROS AND CLARISSA SINGSON

BITOON

CADIZ CITY

CADIZ CITY JUDGE MUNEZ

CHIEF INSP

CHRISTIAN TUAYON

CITY

NEGROS

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL

TALISAY CITY

TAPANG

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