MANILA, Philippines – A top New People’s Army (NPA) commander freed on bail has rejoined his comrades in Negros Island, the military reported on Wednesday.
Maj. Enrico Gil Ileto, spokesperson of the Army’s Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division, said that Romeo Nanta, the NPA’s regional operations commander in Negros Island, is now back in the hills after he was released on bail last Feb. 21, 2012.
Joint police and military elements arrested Nanta, who also goes by the names of Juanito Magbanua, Jack Nanta, Juaning, Islao and Kulas, on Nov. 7 2011, at Brgy. Zone 2, Cadiz City by virtue of arrest warrants for rebellion, robbery-in-band, attempted and frustrated murder issued by three different courts in Negros Occidental.
Nanta’s release was facilitated by Fred Caña of the human rights group Karapatan based in Negros Island.
“It may be legal for Fred Caña of Karapatan-Negros to support arrested New People’s Army members in their posting of bail but Caña should have thought of the repercussions of such actions,” Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr.,commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said.
Hernando Llorente (alias Adoy), the Commander of the NPA’s Northern Negros Front and his wife Faith Roseen Basergo (alias Bea), an NPA political instructor, were also ordered released on bail last April 27.
“The Secretary General of Karapatan-Negros, Fred Caña, rendered the P80,000 bail bond for the temporary liberty of Adoy and Bea”, said Lieutenant Colonel Efren Morados, Commander of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, whose troops supported were responsible for the arrest of the two NPA rebels on April 20.
“Having jumped bail, we know that this will give them (Nanta, Adoy and Bea) the opportunity to rejoin their comrades. We hope that Caña, facilitating the bail, has considered this”, Mabanta said.
Based on military and police records, Nanta was responsible for the ambush of a government-owned vehicle in Barangay Salamanca in Toboso town, Negros Occidental last July 13, 2009.
Eryl Baynosa, 42, one of the survivor and son of Eriberto Baynosa, former barangay Chaiman of Salamanca in Toboso, Negros Occidental, pointed to Nanta as the leader of armed men who carried out the ambush.
The said incidents claimed the lives of Edmar Sultan, 14, a student of the Toboso National High School, Rodolfo Salipod, 56, driver of the barangay service vehicle, and Ena Pata, 50.
Earlier, families of the survivors claimed to be anxious about Nanta’s release. They firmly believe then that Nanta will rejoin his group and get back at them.
Aside from the crimes Nanta was accused of, reports claimed that Nanta was allegedly responsible for the raid and disarming of the 1st Provincial Mobile Group detachment at Barangay Malasibog, Escalante on March 19, 2006; harassment of Villegas Detachment at Barangay Villegas, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental on April 2006; arson incident at the Victorias Milling Company and Central Lopez transloading station at Barangay San Jose, Toboso on March 2008; and the burning of the Globe Telecom cell site in Purok Mabuhay, Barangay Poblacion, Toboso, Negros Occidental.
The list also includes the attack of La Libertad Police Station in Negros Oriental in 2008; raid of ECJ farm at Barangay Suay, Himamaylan on February 2009; raid of Polopangyan detachment located in Barangay Bug-ang, Toboso on 28 August 2010, for disarming and sabotage of VMC pump station in Barangay 20, Victorias City last October 2010 and the harassment of the Polopangyan detachment in Toboso on March 29, 2011, in an attempt to celebrate the NPA founding anniversary, which led to the death of an 11 year old girl named Arni ‘baby’ Amion.
Meanwhile, the military cited more cases where Caña intervened for the release of suspected NPA rebels.
One of them was Marilyn Badayos alyas Eunice/Jonna, top NPA commander operating in Southern Negros, who was arrested last June 18, 2011 in Bacolod City. She rejoined her group after her release last Nov. 9, 2011.
Sometime in 2005, Hermina Compoc alyas Pilay, an NPA member, was apprehended in Bohol. She is now operating with her group in Southern Negros.
On the other hand, Emma Calderon, another NPA member operating in Central Negros, was apprehended in Canlaon City sometime 2003 and later rejoined her group after being released. She eventually surrendered to the authorities last 2009. — Jaime Laude