BUTUAN CITY – Police operatives arrested the fourth most-wanted New People’s Army (NPA) rebel in the Caraga region, a police official said Thursday.
Maj. Jennifer Ometer, chief of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 13 (Caraga) public information office, identified the arrested NPA leader as Atheliana Hijos, alias Ka Atel, who also serves as the secretary general of Gabriela in the region.
Hijos was arrested by operatives of the PRO-13 Regional Intelligence Division in Barangay Kinabjangan, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte on Tuesday evening.
“Hijos has standing arrest warrants for murder and illegal detention issued by two Regional Trial Courts (RTC) in the region,” Ometer said in an interview.
The RTC Branch 34 in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte, issued an arrest warrant against her on June 20, 2020 for murder, and the RTC Branch 7 in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur, on Feb. 12, 2020 for serious illegal detention.
An investigation by the PRO-13 also revealed that Hijos was involved in an armed encounter with military forces in Purok 2, Sitio Kalipayan, Barangay Cuyago, Agusan del Norte on Nov. 20, 2019.
During the encounter, Corporal Mario P. Suson was killed, the investigation said.
Hijos was also allegedly involved in the kidnapping and detention of a member of the Civilian Active Auxiliary in Barangay Kolambungan, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur on Dec. 29, 2018.
Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr., PRO-13 chief, said Hijos' arrest should serve as a warning to the remaining NPA rebels in the region "as the long arm of the law will eventually catch them."
“To those who are still deceived by the empty promises of the communist movement, there is still time to repent and return to the government fold to live a more peaceful and productive life,” Caramat said.
Meanwhile, in a separate operation on Tuesday, the eighth most-wanted NPA rebel in the region was arrested in Barangay Mabahin, Cortes, Surigao del Sur.
PRO-13 identified the wanted NPA rebel as Renante Plaza Bautista, a member of the NPA's Guerilla Front 30 who has a standing arrest warrant for attempted murder.
He allegedly yielded a rifle grenade when arrested.
The Communist Party of the Philippines - NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The National Democratic Front was formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)