The government is offering a P20 million bounty on five ranking leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Palawan.
Brigadier General Nestor Herico, commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade (3MBde), told attendees of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Security Operation (CIPSO) forum in northern Palawan on Wednesday that the government is offering the amount for the capture of five high-value targets (HVTs) of the rebel group in line with the campaign to end the armed conflict in the province.
Herico said President Rodrigo Duterte also offered earlier P2 million for anyone who can give “valuable tips” to government forces that would lead to the arrest of NPA HVTs nationwide.
In Palawan, he said PTF ELCAC is looking for Ka Selmon/Ka Selnon, commanding officer of the Sub-Regional Military Area-4E’ (SRMA-4E) Bienvenido Valleber Command (BVC) with a P6.1 million bounty; Bonifacio Magramo, alias Ka Boywan/Ka Nato, SRMA-4E secretary with a P5.4 million bounty; Andrea Rosal, alias Ka Naya/Ka Ram/Ka Inlay/Ka Joey of the Kilusang Larangang Girilya (KLG)-Palawan with a P4.5 million reward; Charity Dino, alias Ka Rise/Ka Tit/Ka Edna, department secretary of the SRMA-4E with a bounty of P2 million; and Sonny Rogelio, alias Ka Miggy/Ka Samuel/Ka Troy, department secretary of KLG-Palawan with a P2 million reward for his arrest.
“He (Duterte) even offered a reward for anybody who could give information about the NPA na namumuno. Dito sa Palawan, mayroon tayong Sub-Regional Military Unit (SRMU-4E), isang unit lang ng Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC) — ibig sabihin, ang politiko nila,” Herico said.
“Sa listahan natin ay may lima tayo, at if we could successfully apprehend or worst word ay neutralize o mahuli or kung sa engkwentro ay mapatay — basta lang lahat ng information na makakatulong sa amin ay makakasama sa reward,” he added.
Herico told representatives of construction companies in northern Palawan that any detail that will help law enforcers in the apprehension of the rebel leaders should immediately be reported to authorities.
He assured that all information regarding the informant will be kept confidential.
“Kahit sa mga trabahador, whoever in your company at kung hindi ninyo alam kung paano i-handle ang information just text lahat ng binigay sa inyo na number and we will handle it carefully. Kung may assistance kayo na hihingiin sa mga law enforcers, i-text niyo lang. Ang opisina namin at sa pulis ay open 24/7,“ Herico said.
Tightening security amidst COVID-19
CIPSO is part of tightening security in Palawan amidst the coronavirus disease pandemic. Among its goals is to strengthen the relationship between government troops and construction-related companies, considered as possible targets of rebel attacks.
Hosted by the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) for over a hundred attendees in Barangay Minara, Roxas, its commander, Lt. Col. Charlie Domingo, said offensive attacks by the enemies can be expected by construction companies, especially while the province is under the general community quarantine (GCQ).
He said as quarantine eases and the Build! Build! Build! Program resumes, more construction businesses could be prone to extortion activities by the rebels or their attacks.
“Sa expected return [natin] sa full swing ng construction activities dito sa ating joint area of operation in northern Palawan as the quarantine protocol na ini-impose ng ating gobyerno ay unti-unti nang nali-lift. In the next months we are expecting a continuation ng Build! Build! Build! Program ng ating pamahalaan,” he said.
“The construction industry, lahat ng construction-related companies katulad ng mga suppliers, [they] continue to be the main targets ng extortion na hindi lang activities ng mga NPA kundi ng mga nagkukunwari na NPA. With the situation, enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), GCQ, and quarantine protocol ay [naputol] ang resource generation activities ng mga makakaliwa at masasamang loob,” Domingo added.
He said that they are expecting arson activities from the rebels if construction companies will not give the quarterly revolutionary taxes that they demand.
CIPSO and the construction businesses
In response, construction company representatives and owners assured that they will cooperate with the government to achieve its goal of ending the local armed conflict.
Engr. Rexel Abadiano, who refused to name his construction company for security reasons, said that with CIPSO they now have a concrete idea on how to handle the situation whenever there will be attempts that will affect their operations.
“Alam na namin kung sino o anong ahensya ng gobyerno ang maaari naming lapitan sa oras na maka-encounter kami ng makakaliwang grupo. Dahil sa forum na ito, mas alam na namin kung ano ang aming dapat gawin at alam na namin ang mga taktika o paraan ng paghikayat ng mga makakaliwang grupong ito,” Abadiano said.
“It helps us a lot in our company operations. This gives us knowledge about terrorism and how to counter it. We are now aware of the revolutionary tax that terrorists are collecting,” said Lydia Comahig, another attendee of the CIPSO.
Earlier in December 2019, the business sector in Palawan had declared the NPA persona non grata, a move intended to stop their reported extortion activities. The majority of local government units (LGUs) also did the same to stop their recruitment activities.