Army Col. Joselito Kakilala, commanding officer of the Army’s 903rd Infantry Brigade based in Castilla, Sorsogon, said that despite the military’s plea for candidates and politicians not to give in to the rebels’ demand for permit-to-campaign fees, more of them paid up — in his estimate between P7 million and P8 million.
“The amount generated by the government’s enemy from the politicians has been used by the NPA for acquiring weapons and transport fuel against government forces,” Kakilala said.
He made the revelation during a press conference and presentation of high-powered firearms and personal belongings recovered from eight slain rebels during an early July 4 morning encounter in Upper Calmayon, Juban town in Sorsogon province.
The presentation was held Monday at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola, headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Bicol Regional Office here.
“The rebels in Sorsogon collected more or less P7-P8 million extortion money in the form of permits to campaign or win in the May elections,” he said without reservation.
The Maoist armed rebel group has been waging war against government forces for 44 years and is the longest surviving communist insurgents in Southeast Asia. It has claimed thousands of lives of government forces and suspected assets of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the early ‘80s to ‘90s, he said.
Government offensive attacks
Kakilala said government security forces will be launching offensive attacks against the communist insurgents, who have been victimizing even the poorest residents in Sorsogon province in the form of so-called mandatory revolutionary taxation, which he said is actually extortion.
“It may be hard and tedious but we will find them in every corner of Sorsogon. So, we’re calling on all our politicians and construction firms to stop giving permit-to-campaign fees and money to our enemy so that the fourth generation of rebels will be crippled,” Kakilala stressed.
As to the eight slain rebels during the military encounter, he said government forces are unhappy seeing wayward Filipinos die.
He said that he even sympathizes with their families.
Army Col. Raul Farnacio, commanding officer of the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade based in Villahermosa, Daraga that is at the boundary of Sorsogon and Albay provinces, said their hearts bleed seeing fellow Filipinos die in military encounters.
“We even extended our sympathies to the families of the slain members of the communist guerrilla movement who had gone through a different wayward path,” Farnacio said.
Who was Ka Greg Bañares?
Among those killed were Ka Greg Bañares, whose real name is Frankie Joe Soriano, who served as NDF spokesman and concurrent secretary general of Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA in Bicol, and his wife Ka Nel, whose real name was Christine Puche.
Soriano and Puche’s bodies were brought to Legazpi City, where their relatives and friends could pay their last respects. Soriano, 40, was a graduate of political science. He was born in Barangay San Isidro, Libmanan town in Camarines Sur and raised by parents who are both public school teachers.
He was the eldest among three siblings, one of whom is also a public school teacher like his parents.
In 2008, Soriano disappeared and was never heard of by his family, relatives, and friends.
Puche was reportedly a graduate of Mass Communications from the University of the Philippines.
A relative, who requested anonymity, said Soriano met Puche sometime in 2000 when he was actively involved in protest rallies against former President Joseph Estrada.
The two got married later and had two children who were left under the care of Puche’s parents in Legazpi City.
On Soriano’s death, his friends and relatives were surprised to know that the slain NDF spokesman who disappeared in the past few years was indeed Greg Bañares.
The real identity of Ka Greg was revealed to the public only after the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front published his real name in the movement’s website following his death.
The Celso Minguez Command of the NPA operating in Sorsogon admitted in a statement in its official blog that Ka Greg Bañares was among the eight casualties in the 35-minute firefight between Army’s 31st Infantry Battalion and an NPA unit in Barangay Upper Calmayon, Juban, Sorsogon.
Army Captain Marjorie Paimela Panesa, acting public information officer of the Army’s 9th ID, said personnel from 31st IB verified that among the fallen armed combatants were really Soriano alias Ka Samuel Guerero/Ka Greg Bañares.
Panesa said Soriano’s body was claimed by a family member who confirmed that he was from San Roque, Nabua, Camarines Sur, and a graduate of Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science.
His wake is currently being held in the house of his relatives in Barangay Bonot, Legazpi City.
Panesa said most of casualties from the rebel side were ranking officials of the NPA in Sorsogon. They included Ka Miloy alias Ka Dado, a political instructor of the provincial guerilla unit; Arnel Estiller alias ka Ariston, leader of the small NPA unit encountered in Juban; a certain Alicia alias Ka Ja/Jackelyn/Manay, of the regional guerilla unit (RGU); and Abby, RGU staff and editor of
, the regular video broadcast of the CPP and NPA in the Bicol Region aired via video compact discs (CDs) distributed here.
Other casualties identified by the Celso Minguez Command in its blog were Ka Miloy (Pehing Hipa), Ka Gary (Ted Palacio), Ka Rey (David Llunar), Ka Nene (Romero Añonuevo), Ka Jay (William Villanueva, Jr), and Ka Kevin (Ailyn Calma), calling them “martyrs.”
Soriano, according to Kakilala, was with 50 armed combatants gathered together after extorting money from the people whom, he said, “were fed up by the oppressive collection.”
“We receive complaints from the civilian residents about these extortion activities carried out by heavily armed members of the NPA. It is our constitutional mandate to protect the people from any armed threats,” he said.
Kakilala, an awardee of the prestigious Presidential Lingkod Bayan and Metrobank Foundation’s The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS), urged the rebels to return the fold of law so they will be able to live with their families peacefully.
“We’re not rejoicing over the death of our fellow ‘kababayans’ but we have a mandate to perform — to protect the people from lawless elements of the society. We’re urging them (NPA rebels) to abandon their armed struggle and instead join us in pursuit of peace, progress, and development of our country,” Kakilala said.
- It’s a students’ fun run – and the NPA opens fire (rappler.com)
- NPA Bicol spokesman among those killed in Sorsogon clash Thursday (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- AFP saddened by deaths of 8 NPA leaders: ‘Talents, idealism lost to violence’ (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Student hit by gunfire in Sorsogon fun run shooting (sorsogoncity.wordpress.com)
- NPA vows to avenge slain comrades in Sorsogon (rappler.com)
- Soldier, Cafgu member shot dead while attending Sorsogon fiesta (sorsogoncity.wordpress.com)