BONGABON, Nueva Ecija – About 25 rebels, four of them amazons, beefed up the New People’s Army (NPA) force for its operation in Nueva Ecija, Aurora, and Nueva Vizcaya.
This was revealed by Col. Rowen Tolentino, commander of the Army’s 703rd Brigade stationed here, who added that the dissidents readily agreed to come to the Luzon area for a promise of a “better situation for them.”
Citing intelligence sources, Tolentino disclosed that the recruited rebels from Mindanao slipped in last year and joined three rebel platoons moving about in the Sierra Madre and Cordillera mountain ranges in the eastern part of Nueva Ecija.
“Part of their operation is the harassment of owners of combine harvesters and construction companies,” he said.
“They demand revolutionary tax from them.” The combine harvester is derisively called “halimaw” by human harvesters as they said “it gobbled their source of palay share in their harvesting of the crop.”
Tolentino said one combine harvester, one truck and one cement mixer were burned by the rebels on separate incidents last year as their owners reportedly ignored the taxation demand of the dissident groups.
He said the continuing operation of his brigade, which is under the 7th Infantry Division in Camp Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, had killed two rebels in an encounter. A total of 24 heavy firearms were recovered from the rebels in separate encounters.
One of his soldiers was killed in an ambush by one of the NPA platoons.
Tolentino added that four of the amazons, who included a University of the Philippines student, were captured while they were conducting teach-in in a Nueva Ecija town. A male rebel was also captured while roaming around in Rizal town in Nueva Ecija.
It turned out that the male rebel escaped from his platoon operating in Aurora province to look for his wife, who was one of the captured amazons, and their eightmonth old baby girl.
“He (the captured rebel) told me he wanted to be re-united with his wife and their first-born child,” Tolentino said.
With the assistance of the police, his men traced the child of the couple in a Tarlac town under the care of a close relative of the captured amazon, and was brought to their headquarters.
“The male rebel, Allan Halop and his amazon-wife, Rachel Galerio, and their child, Rowena, were re-united through a surprise arrangement we made during the visit of our army commander. Their child was also christened last December in a church in Fort Magsaysay in an aside rite.
The army commander, Lt. General Macairog Alberto, the 7th Division commander Major Gen. Felino Santos Jr., and Tolentino stood as sponsors in the baptism rites for the child of the rebel-couple.
“We got vital information from the captured rebels and from the documents recovered from the slain dissidents,” Tolentino said. “We are relentlessly pursuing the beefed-up rebel groups,” he added.