‘Arrest of rebel leader, death of deputy big blow to NPA’

The arrest of a ranking rebel leader and the killing of her deputy in Ilog, Negros Occidental, on Tuesday is a big blow to the New People’s Army in Negros Occidental, Col. Ryan Manongdo, 6th Special Action Force Battalion commander, said Wednesday, September 15.

Nilda Natander Bertolano, 56, secretary of the NPA Southwest Front, was injured and her deputy Christian Vargas, alias Ka Hans, was killed in an encounter with Special Action Force troopers in Sitio Balik-Balik, Brgy. Tabu, Ilog, Negros Occidental, he said.

Bertolano spent more than half of her life as a member of the rebel group, he said.

The one hour and ten-minute gunbattle resulted in the death of four rebels, injury of two and the arrest of one, he said.

One of the fatalities was identified as Joel Fundador while arrested was Joebel Mabayag who are members of the rebel platoon that engaged the SAF in a gunbattle, Monongdo added.

The nine others whom they brought in for questioning Tuesday were released. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time, he said.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said more than ever there is a necessity to attain peace all over the country.

“In war everybody is a loser,” he said.

The provincial government will exert all efforts to reach out to Negrenses and help them that hopefully will bring lasting peace in the future, Lacson added.*

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