A HEAVILY-ARMED man arrested by policemen conducting an anti-illegal logging operation in Amai Manabilang, Lanao del Sur on Sunday morning turned out to be a member of the New People’s Army involved in a 2019 ambush on the convoy of a police general inspecting troops in the province, Philippine National Police chief, General Debold M. Sinas reported yesterday.
The suspect was identified as Heldo Abuanga alias ‘Sandag,’ a farmer from Barangay Tikalaan in Talakag, Bukidnon.
Local policemen led by Lieutenant Reagan Adap were investigating the reported presence of a group of armed illegal loggers set to transport illegally-cut timber products from Bgy. Pagunayon to nearby Bgy. Lambanogan when they arrested the suspect around 2 p.m. Sunday.
It turned out that the illegal loggers were NPA members from Bukidnon, a report from the Bangsamoro Administrative Region Police Regional Office said.
Sinas said that the policemen spotted the suspect riding a horse carrying cut lumber in the area prompting them to stop him for inspection. The lawmen later found an M-4 automatic rifle hanging on one side of the horse prompting them to make the arrest when the suspect failed to present any gun papers as well as any authority to cut lumber in the area.
When searched, the suspect also yielded a fragmentation grenade, four 5.56 magazines containing 68 live ammunition, a magazine bandolier and a caliber .45 pistol with a magazine containing seven bullets.
During questioning, the suspect confessed that he was a member of the NPA Team Squad Medic operating in the municipalities of Amai Manabilang and Maguing in Lanao del Sur.
He claimed to be a participant in a number of NPA attacks on government troops in Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon including an ambush on the convoy of then PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Eastern Mindanao deputy director, Brigadier Gen. Joselito Salido in Bgy. Tikalaan on January 29, 20219.
One policeman was killed in the 2019 attack.
A record check showed Abuanga’s name is included in the PNP periodic status report on wanted NPA rebels in Mindanao.
The suspect is now being held at the Amai Manabilang police lock-up facility facing non-bailable charges for illegal possession of explosive and firearm and ammunition.