NPA’s Mindanao top finance officer nabbed in Butuan City

DAVAO CITY – The military on Saturday announced the capture of the communist New People’s Army’s (NPA) top finance officer for Mindanao during an operation in Butuan City.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command based here, said Nerita Calamba de Castro was nabbed during a joint police and military operation in Emenville Subdivision in Barangay Ambago in Butuan City on Thursday.

Balagtey said De Castro was arrested based on a warrant for murder issued by Judge Lilibeth Ladaga of the Regional Trial Court Branch 28 in Lianga. Surigao del Sur. The details of De Castro’s murder case was not revealed by the military.

Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, commander of the 402ndInfantry Brigade based in Butuan City, said De Castro was named as the finance head of the Komisyon Mindanao of the NPA following the February 2 arrest of Leonida Guao, also in Butuan City.

Gacal added that De Castro was also acting secretary of the Regional White Area Committee (RWAC) of the NPA’s northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

“Indeed, we can go after high-ranking personalities of the NPA and accomplish our tasks easily if we continue to put our acts together,” Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., the Eastmincom commander, said of the joint efforts that led to de Castro’s arrest.

Madrigal also said De Castro’s arrest was “a big blow” to the NPA’s operation.

“We expect further that de Castro will be revealing information, especially about those who are contributing to the NPA,” he said.

Last month, authorities arrested Elizalde Cañete, alias Jinggoy, the alleged commander of the Pulang Bagani (Red Warriors) in Southern Mindanao.

Cañete, who reportedly succeeded Leoncio Pitao alias Parago after his death in 2015, was being treated for gunshot wounds he reportedly sustained from an encounter in Bukidnon when authorities arrested him based on warrants at a hospital in Don Carlos town, also in Bukidnon.

Cañete was flown to Davao City this week and is now under custody of the Davao City Police Office.

Lt. Teresita Ingente, the spokesperson of the 4thInfantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City, said the continued military operation against the rebels had also taken a heavy toll on the NPA.

Ingente said during another military operation in Lagonglong in Misamis Oriental from May 27 to May 28, soldiers killed an NPA bomb expert and two others.

Brigadier General Eric Vinoya, the commander of the 403rdInfantry Brigade, said the deaths would have been avoided had the rebels just surrendered. /muf

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