Posted to the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) Facebook page (Mar 25): Catholic Priest Turned Top NPA Terrorist Falls in Laguna
Party Wife Also Apprehended
Camp Capinpin, Tanay Rizal-Combined elements from the AFP’s Intelligence Units, Philippine National Police and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency apprehended a fugitive NDF consultant, who is also the most ranking NPA terrorist operating in Negros Island, during a law enforcement operations at around 5:16 a.m. Sunday in Brgy Calumpang, Nagcarlan, Laguna.
According to Brigadier General Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, Commander of the 202nd Infantry (UNIFIER) Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over the area, the government’s security forces apprehended Frank Fernandez alias Ago, of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, together with Cleofe Lagtapo alias Guia, Regional Deputy Secretary for Communications and Education, and Geen-Ann Canedo Perez alias Angie, a Regional Communications Staff during a raid of an NPA safehouse in the area.
“They were the principal targets of the government troops who were there to serve their warrant of arrest”, said General Burgos.
He added that “the law enforcement operation was triggered by the information given by one of their NPA comrades as to their current location which was subsequently validated by locals from Nagcarlan who became suspicious of their actions.”
Lt Col Jonathan Manio, Commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion, said that the joint operations resulted to the confiscation of three caliber .45 pistols, three hand grenades, 35 cellular phones, numerous technical gadgets, various war materiel and voluminous enemy documents with high intelligence value.
“The arrest is a product of our people’s increasing vigilance against the NPA terrorists and a realization that, indeed, security is a shared responsibility,” said LTC Manio.
He added that “the people in the area reported their presence to the authorities because of their unusual behavior – staying in an abandoned and dilapidated house located in the outskirts of the town and always moving by foot with their backpacks during unholy hours.”
Per government records, Frank Fernandez is a Catholic priest who was radicalized by NPA ideology in the 1980s and has since been active in the killing of soldiers and Cafgu Active Auxilliaries through SPARU operations particularly in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
“Father Frank” is also allegedly primarily responsible in the ambush that resulted to the death of Guihulngan’s chief of police sometime July 2017 as well as the ambush perpetrated against soldiers early this year.
The intelligence community is currently validating reports that among those apprehended was the priest’s party wife which is a clear violation of the Church’s “vow of celibacy” and a betrayal of every priest’s devotion to his Catholic flock.
Major General Rhoderick M Parayno, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said that the arrest is a result of the government’s “whole of nation approach” in putting an end to communist armed conflict which will speed-up the process of defeating insurgency across the country.
“The government will be unrelenting in our pursuit for peace and prosperity whoever, whatever and wherever the threat may be” said General Parayno.
He added that “we have been hitting them at all fronts and keeping them on the run, thus, I urge the few remaining members of the NPAs to give up their arms and return to mainstream society because sooner or later we will catch them. This arrest is a loud and clear reminder that no one can escape the long arms of our country’s law.”
The military expressed their gratitude to the people who provided the information which led to the arrest and urged others to follow their lead in the name of lasting peace, prosperity and development.