Wednesday, February 8, 2012
BALER, Aurora, February 8, 2012-In the recent encounter with government forces Monday, two (2) elusive top leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA) were identified by the authorities recognizing marks of the two matched as Antonio Layco alias Ambo/Berto who came from the remote barangay of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija and Remy Huego alias Russel who also hails from Brgy. Dimanayat, San Luis, Aurora.
The identification also matched the description given by former NPA rebels who have worked with Berto and Russel.
They were recruited by the rebels who were then frequenting in their respective places. As they go along in the activities of the NPA units they were promoted to higher position.
Berto is the platoon commanding officer (CO) of the remnant NPA unit from the insurgency free provinces of Nueva Ecija and Aurora. Russel is the assistant platoon CO of the remnant NPA unit.
Asked as to how it will affect the NPA, Col Felicito Virgilio Trinidad, Commander of the 702nd Brigade said that this will definitely affect their leadership. A leadership struggle among themselves will again happen as there are factions in the top leadership of the NPA in this region. It will be recalled that as a result of our sustained military operations in the past and which led to the dissolution and/or merger of several NPA units in both Aurora and Nueva Ecija, walang gustong magpa-under sa ibang commander. And more than the position as a motivating factor is the lucrative sum of money derived from the NPA extortion activities.
“Power struggle in the NPA incites disillusionment among its members. Berto was also disillusioned then and wanted to surrender when his top leader then also died in an encounter. His designation as successor and top leader changed his planned surrender. It is so unfortunate that he died in this encounter. He should have surrendered then,” said Trinidad.
Ltc Kurt Decapia, 48th Infantry Battalion Commander in his assessment said that this is definitely a big blow in their organization and leadership. We expect others to surrender and we are prepared to facilitate that in coordination with concerned government agencies.
Asked as to how the Army can justify the presence of NPAs in these insurgency free provinces, “if you will look where these groups are operating, they don’t come near populated centers. They are constantly on the run. The people do not want them anymore. People report their presence and we respond to reports immediately. They can only stay in the mountains, hiding from the people,” Decapia said.
Decapia added that the death of Berto and Russel will expect to other members to surrender soon. We knew some of the members wanted to surrender then but never did. Berto threatened the members of punishment by death if they do so.
Bgen Alan R. Luga, Commander, 7th Infantry Division who is scheduled to formally assume as Commander in a Change-of-Command ceremony today said that they are calling out for the remaining members of Berto to come down and lay down their arms and join back to the mainstream of society so that the next generation will reap the tranquility in their respective places.
“The Government is ready to accept them back,” Luga ended. (Jason de Asis)
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