A HIGH-RANKING New People’s Army official was arrested while an Abu Sayyaf terrorist was killed in two separate anti-terror operations in the rebel-infested hinterlands of Agusan del Sur and in a terrorist hotbed in Basilan Saturday.
Major Ezra Balatey, spokesperson of the Army’s Eastern Mindanao Command, identified the arrested ranking NPA official as Pabilio Campos, also known as Batik, the front secretary and political officer of Guerillas Front 21A, operating in Agusan del Sur.
Balagtey added that Campos is also spokesperson of the Sub-RegionalCommittee of Eastland of the Northern Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.
Campos was apprehended by the joint troops of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion and Philippine National Police at Barangay El Rio, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur at about 9 a.m.
Government troops recovered an M14 rifle, a fully loaded magazine, 3 cellular phones, and a hand grenade from Campos’ belongings.
The military said that Campos was one of those responsible in the failed ambush of PNP personnel Sibagat detachment July 29 last year at El Rio which resulted in the death of a policeman.
Campos was arrested on the strength of eight warrants of arrest issued by the different Regional Trial Courts branches in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and Bayugan City for the crime of rebellion, frustrated murder, murder, multiple attempted murder, kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
“Pablito Campos’ apprehension is a big setback for the NPA terrorists in Caraga Region knowing that he is the brain of Front Committee 21A. He decides on which companies and personalities are for extortion and abduction,” Balagtey said.
Balagtey added that Campos is a top propagandist and recruiter in the ridges of Sibagay, Bayugan and San Miguel in Agusan del Sur.
Records show that since January this year, the Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade operating in the rebel-infested areas in Agusan del Sur has so far captured 4 rebels while 57 have surrendered after the military conducted relentless operations against terrorist elements in the province.
At least 26 high-powered firearms and more than 100 Improvised Explosive Devices, thousands of ammunitions were seized.
“We are looking forward for more apprehension in the coming days and weeks because the AFP and PNP have already eyes on the leaderships of the NPA terrorist,” Balagtey said.
In Basilan, a member of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group was killed in clash with army troopers of the 68th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Pali, Barangay Abong-Abong, Maluso at about 8:45 a.m. Saturday.
At press time, fighting between security forces and an undetermined number of bandits are still raging and the Army Artillery Battalion has pounded potential ASG positions in the outskirts of Maluso town.
Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said that government troops were on combat patrol when they chanced upon an ASG band, triggering a firefight which lasted more than an hour.
Helicopter gunships were also deployed in the scene of fighting to support ground troops in pinning down the fleeing ASG bandits.
“We also directed other maneuver forces including the special forces battalion, troops from the 64th and 18 Infantry Battalions to block possible avenues of enemy withdrawal, “ said Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan.
Dead bodies of the bandits were recovered along with an M14 rifle at the site of the encounter site.
“There will be a no-let up operation against the Abu Sayyaf as our commander-in-chief himself has declared such since last year,” said Lieutenant General Carlito G Galvez, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
“The different Joint Task Forces are in full-throttle to get the remaining Abu Sayyaf members and to rescue their kidnap victims.”