Nabbed NPA leader brain of terrorism in Surigao Norte

Nabbed NPA leader brain of terrorism in Surigao Norte

TERROR LEADER. Photo shows a mugshot of New People's Army leader Gelan Ybañez alias Weng, who was arrested on Nov. 14, 2021 in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur. The Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion said he was the brains behind the series of terror attacks in two Surigao del Norte towns this year that destroyed millions of pesos worth of properties. (Photo courtesy of 30IB)

BUTUAN CITY – The arrested top commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Northeastern Mindanao was behind the series of terroristic activities and economic sabotage that has destroyed millions of pesos in businesses and livelihood in Surigao del Norte.

In a statement Tuesday, the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion (30IB) said Gelan Ybañez alias Weng, leader of the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda Platoon 16B NPA Guerilla Front 16 Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee, and his group were responsible for the attack in Sison, Surigao del Norte earlier this year that sowed fear among its residents.

On January 28, an undetermined number of fully-armed NPA guerrillas simultaneously harassed the municipal police station of Sison and the residence of the town mayor.

Combined military and police forces repelled the attacks.

Ybañez was arrested Sunday night in Barangay Poblacion, Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur by military and police personnel.

A .45-caliber pistol and a fragmentation grenade were also seized from the NPA leader.

Ybañez is charged with violation of Republic Act (RA) 9208 as amended by RA 10364, or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, as well as attempted murder, multiple attempted murder, and attempted homicide.

In February, the NPA leader also led the burning of two units of heavy equipment used at the construction of a farm-to-market road in Binocaran, Malimono town, according to the military.

A total of PHP5.9 million worth of heavy equipment were destroyed during the attack.

In June, the 30IB said Ybañez’s group destroyed a prawn farm in Purok 1, Barangay Pili, Malimono.

Some PHP8.5 million worth of cultured prawns were destroyed during the attack.

“We are thankful for the support the communities provided to our troops. The arrest of Ybañez will pave the way for continued development interventions in communities that will bring lasting peace,” Lt. Col. Ryan Charles Callanta, the 30IB commander, said in a statement.

He said the support of the civilians indicates that communities in Surigao del Norte are tired of the terroristic activities of the NPA.

“The 30IB troopers will continue to carry out its mission through the conduct of military operations to secure communities and the residents,” Callanta said.

He also urged the remaining NPA guerrillas in Surigao del Norte to surrender so they could benefit from the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government.

The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front, meanwhile, has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)