Army Col. Francisco Patrimonio yesterday maintained it was Felimon Mendrez, commander of the Regional Strike Force-Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros, who was arrested by the police and military last month in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, contrary to the claims of the Communist Party of the Philippines and rebel priest Frank Fernandez that it was another case of “mistaken identity”.
The CPP, citing reports by human rights groups in Negros, claimed in a statement that the 302nd Infantry Brigade, commanded by Patrimonio, arrested and detained Oligario Sebas, a resident of Manjuyod town, who is being claimed by the military to be Mendrez.
Patrimonio, however, said the identity of Mendrez was confirmed by numerous sources, before the police, assisted by military personnel, served the arrest warrant on him in Brgy. Tubod, Manjuyod on Dec. 25 last year.
Mendrez, who was alleged by the military to be the deputy secretary of the Central Visayas Regional Party Committee, has pending arrest warrants for rebellion and robbery-in-band charges. He was also denied bail by the court, police and military records show.
Fernandez, who is alleged by the military to be the secretary of Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros, claimed in another statement that the arrest of “Mendrez”, an “innocent civilian,” was a “desperate” attempt of the military to recover from their tactical setback, when they suffered casualties in Isabela encounters.
P2.25 M BOUNTY
Mendrez has a P5.25 million bounty for his arrest, stipulated in the Joint Order 14-2012 issued by the departments of Interior and Local Government, and National Defense.
The CPP, in its statement, added that “AFP generals and officials are pocketing millions of pesos over these fake arrests that are victimizing innocent civilians and subjecting them to human rights abuses.”
Patrimonio said the P5.25 million reward will go to the civilian informants, and not to military personnel, in appreciation for the support extended to them.
He said the arrest of Mendrez, who is involved in the planning and execution of NPA tactical offensives in Negros, will reduce the capability of the revolutionary movement to conduct atrocities.
With the arrest of Mendrez and several other rebel leaders in Negros island, the CPP-NPA is now facing a shortage in terms of seasoned and experienced cadres.
Patrimonio also stressed that the observance of the ceasefire does not mean suspension also of the enforcement of laws. “Never in our history has the enforcement of laws been suspended because of SOMO,” he added.
As commander of the KR-Negros Regional Strike Force, Mendrez allegedly led various violent NPA actions in Negros island and in other areas of Central Visayas, the most significant of which was the raid on the Polopangyan detachment in Brgy. Bug-ang. Toboso, on Aug. 28, 2010.*GPB
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