TWO wanted New People’s Army leaders in Northern Luzon were captured by the local police in a counter-insurgency operation in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur early morning Friday, Police Regional Office 1 director, Brigadier General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. announced yesterday.
In a report to Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, the official identified the two as Joel Sibalo Banganan, tagged as the commanding officer of the NPA’s Kilusang Larangan Gerilya North Abra and Ranny Velle Balalo Urbis, said to be the 2nd deputy secretary of the same rebel group.
Azurin said the two were arrested in their hiding place in Barangay Damacuag in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur by the local police at 6:30 a.m. Friday.
Banganan is the subject of a warrant of arrest for rebellion issued by the Bangued, Abra Regional Trial Court Branch 1 while Urbis is wanted for a frustrated murder case being heard by the Bontoc, Mountain Province RTC Branch 36.
Azurin said the arrests were made in the wake of an ongoing pursuit operation against the NPA rebels who clashed with members of the Army’s 702nd Infantry Brigade in Sta. Lucia municipality on Saturday last week.
An Army soldier was killed while four others were wounded in the encounter along the diversion road at Barangay Suagayan in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur near Candon City at 2 p.m. last Saturday.
The soldiers were conducting security patrol in the area when they were attacked by the rebels triggering the gunbattle which led in the killing of three guerrillas, one of them said to be an NPA female medical officer and a bomb expert.
Two civilians were injured during the crossfire between the two groups.
Azurin said members of the Ilocos Sur Police Provincial Office headed by Colonel Ronald M. Tagao arrested the two suspects who are now being held at the Sta. Lucia Municipal Police Station jail.