Army alert up vs. NPA retaliatory attacks after arrest of rebel leader

MAKILALA, North Cotabato — Government forces have been alerted in Davao del Sur and North Cotabato following the arrest Thursday of a ranking official of the communist New Peoples Army (NPA) leader and the killing of his follower in the village of Barangay Buri, Matanao, Davao del Sur.

Lt. Colonel Arnold Argamosa, commander of the 39th Infantry Battalion based in North Cotabato, said an alert status has been declared by Eastern Mindanao Command for possible “retaliatory attacks.”

Argamosa identified the arrested NPA leader as Joan Casamorin, also known as “Alvin,” allegedly the vice commander of Guerilla Front 72 of NPA Far South Mindanao Regional Committee.

Casamorin is facing charges of robbery, kidnapping and serious illegal detention and murder.

He leads an NPA group operating in remote communities in North Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat.

Elements of the 39th IB were sent to Barangay Buri after residents reported the presence of several armed men mulcting on farmers.

As the soldiers were approaching the village, they were fired upon by gunmen, triggering a firefight, according to Argamosa.

Authorities identified the slain NPA member as “JebJeb.” A cal. 45 pistol was taken from him.

Argamosa told reporters the civilians helped in identifying the slain guerilla and the arrested leader.

He lauded the residents for helping authorities about the presence of NPAs in their midst.

Military commanders in the area also alerted the residents about land mines and road side bombs expected to be planted by the NPA after the arrest of one of its leaders.

The NPAs have been fighting the Philippine government for more than four decades and considered to be the oldest communist movement in Asia. PNA / Northbound Philippines News Online