An elusive and notorious leader of the New People’s Army, and five others, including his wife, were intercepted and arrested at a Comelec checkpoint Friday night in Brgy. Dancalan, Ilog, Negros Occidental, police said.
Senior Insp. Joshua Villasis, Ilog police chief, yesterday said the arrest of six suspected rebels yielded a .45 caliber pistol with five magazines of ammunition, a Walter caliber .22 pistol with three magazines of ammunition, rifle grenade, a fragmentation grenade, hundreds of ammunition for M16 assault rifle, among other items and foodstuff.
Arrested were Reniel Cellon, alias “Ka Kumpol,” who was tagged by the military as commander of the Sentro de Grabidad platoon of the SouthWest Front Committee of Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros; his wife, Mary Jane Magquilat, alias “Ka Chin-Chin”; Jose Sonny Boy Ditomal, 41; Rodrigo Maricasa, 49; Antonio Estaniel, 51; and Edson Gonzales, 20.
Cellon, 44, and his wife have pending arrest warrants for murder, in the death of an Army lieutenant in Cauayan town in 2011, and frustrated murder charges, Villasis said.
Magquilat, 38, alleged head of the Education Bureau of the South West Front Committee, was nabbed in March last year by the 47th Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Bantayan, Kabankalan City. She was released later by the Philippine Army since she had no pending arrest warrant at the time of her arrest.
Magquilat is also the political officer of the rebel unit commanded by her husband, military records showed.
Cellon, reportedly led several assassination activities of NPA, numerous encounters with the 61st and 47th Infantry Battalion and ambush of 2Lt. Jose Angelo Esguerra as well the raid and destruction of mining firm properties in Sipalay City, military records also indicated.
The six suspected rebels were charged Saturday before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Negros Occidental in Bacolod City, for violation of the Comelec gun ban and illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Cellon and Magquilat, who were denied bail for murder charges, were immediately remitted to the Provincial Jail in Bago City.
The four other suspected rebels, however, vehemently denied allegations that they are connected with the NPA.
Villasis said a brief chase ensued between police and military personnel and the six suspects on board a Suzuki Carry vehicle, that had stopped at about 30 to 50 meters away from the checkpoint. When they tried to inspect, Villasis said the vehicle fled towards Candoni, but was later cornered at Km. 105 in Brgy. Dancalan, Ilog. Its occupants did not put up a fight.
He also said the 45 caliber pistol and fragmentation grenade were recovered from Cellon, while the .22 pistol was taken from Magquilat. A rifle grenade, a bandolier of an M16 rifle containing six magazines of ammunition, nine boxes of M16 ammunition, a box of ammunition for carbine, assorted subversive documents, including extortion letters, personal belongings and assorted foodstuff were recovered in the vehicle.
Major General Jose Mabanta Jr., commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, commended the 47th IB and Ilog police for the arrest of Cellon and his companions, for an accomplishment that was a product of strong collaboration between the state security forces and Negrenses.
Mabanta added that the arrest of Cellon will add to the crisis being experienced by the top leadership of the CPP-NPA-NDF in Negros under former-priest Frank Fernandez.
Lt. Col. Enriquito Deocades, 47IB commander, said the capture of Cellon and his companions will definitely be a significant blow to the CPP-NPA movement in the southwestern part of Negros.*GPB