Police and military authorities are now verifying whether or not arrested Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) leader Pedro Lumantas was among the suspected rebels who engaged Army troopers in a brief gun battle in Bilar last month.
Lumantas may be among CPP-NPA ranking members who have been tasked to lead efforts in re-establishing a rebel stronghold in the province, but it is yet to be known if he was involved in the clash, said Col. Ignacio Madriaga, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade.
Lumantas was arrested by police and military operatives on Saturday at the Ramiro Hospital in Tagbilaran City while he was being treated for a gunshot wound. He was taken into police custody by virtue of an arrest warrant for the killing of two paramilitary soldiers earlier this year.
“Na operahan siya, tapos na identify siya dahil mayroong nag-report dun sa ospital na mayroong ginagamot na may gunshot wound so pinuntahan, nagverify tapos noong na-identify siya at alam na mayroon siyang standing warrant of arrest, in-apprehend siya,” said Madriaga.
Madriaga pointed out that Lumantas’ name was not among those listed by authorities as part of the armed group allegedly led by NPA leader Domingo Compoc who engaged government troops in a gun fight in Barangay Campagao, Bilar on May 15.
“Hindi pa natin malaman yan. Although meron tayong nakuhang mga pangalan na kasali [sa encounter] pero di natin masabi na kasama siya [Lumantas] kasi wala naman siya sa listahan,” he said.
Authorities have earlier noted that some of the NPA rebels who clashed with the army may have sustained gunshot injuries.
However, Madriaga said that it is unlikely that Lumantas’ gunshot wound was from the May clash as it was already over a month ago.
“Medyo malabo yung probability na kasama siya doon kung sugat ang basis, kasi bago lang ginamot yung sugat niya, eh yung engkwentro that was May 15 so matagal na, more than a month na,” he added.
In a statement, the 47th Infantry Battalion earlier said that Lumantas was involved in “a series of atrocities” in Cebu and Bohol, including the recent “merciless killings” of two members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) last April and May.
First Lt. Elma Grace Remonde of the 47th Infantry Battation identified the victims as Paulino Banga and Edwin Bugahod who were killed in Barangay Dagohoy, Bilar on March 28 and Barangay Rosariohan, Batuan on May 16, respectively. (A. Doydora)