Esperon: Lawmen kill 3 Red assassins in Laguna raid
By Dexter Cabalza / Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA – National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. claimed on Friday that security forces killed three communist rebels on a mission to assassinate officials of the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
“One of their missions [was] to hit NTF-Elcac talking heads. However, they were preempted. Our gratitude to our partners in NTF-Elcac, including members of the armed forces and the police,” Esperon, vice chair of the anti-insurgency task force, said in a statement.
He did not identify who among the NTF-Elcac officials were the target of the attack but, last week, Esperon announced the addition of six more task force spokespersons, besides Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. and Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy.
Government troops were supposed to serve warrants of arrest against Rommel Rizza, alias Jomar/Bernie, for attempted murder, murder, and kidnapping with murder issued by two regional trial courts in Quezon province.
Officers of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army raided Rizza’s safehouse inside a subdivision in Barangay Macabling, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, past 12 a.m. Friday.
Esperon said that during the service of the warrant, Rizza and his men fired at the arresting officers, triggering a gunfight, which eventually killed Rizza and two others identified only as medic and supply officer “Ka Blue/Billy” and intelligence officer “Ka Dean.”
Recovered from them were M-16 armalite rifle, two 45-caliber pistols, several electronic devices, and documents.
‘A desperate publicity ploy’
Esperon claimed that Rizza was a commanding officer of the regional special operations group in Southern Tagalog of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
But Marco Valbuena, the chief information officer of the CPP, denied there was a plot to assassinate the NTF-Elcac spokespersons.
“The claim is stupendous and is a desperate publicity ploy to draw public attention and sympathy. They probably are aware how the public has fast grown tired and critical of their repeated lies and concocted stories,” he said in a message to the Inquirer.
“The hunger for publicity is pushing the numerous NTF-Elcac spokespersons to churn out more and more false information to hide the growing number of crimes of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP,” he added. Valbuena clarified that the targets of the partisan units of the NPA were police and military criminals, and their bosses and minions.
“This would not include the civilian mouthpieces of the NTF-Elcac. The more they lie, the more that the NTF-Elcac is unmasked as a tool to violently silence and suppress the people.”
In end-December last year, the CPP’s top brass ordered the NPA to deploy hit squads, called partisan units, to cities and major town centers to assassinate police officers, military men, and government officials akin to the “Sparrow” units of the 1980s.