CENT­COM: We’re not hid­ing Pak­ing

The Freeman - - NEWS - — Er­mida Q. Mo­radas and Mae Cly­dyl L. Avila/ JBB

The Armed Forces of the Philip­pinesCen­tral Com­mand (AFP-CENT­COM) has de­nied al­le­ga­tions that they are hid­ing sus­pected com­mu­nist rebel group mem­ber Rus­tico ‘Pak­ing' Tan from his fam­ily.

CENT­COM Spokesper­son Colonel Medel Aguilar said that Tan, 76, is un­der their cus­tody as per the re­quest of the Philip­pine National Po­lice (PNP).

“Nung di­nala siya sa kampo dahil sa re­quest ng PNP na i-take cus­tody siya for se­cu­rity rea­sons… Hindi natin siya tinatago. Sila nga ang nag­tatago kasi for many years na hi­na­hanap siya hindi na­man sila nagsabi na nan­doon and that is a se­ri­ous of­fense,” said Aguilar.

Tan was ar­rested in Barangay Pasil, San­tander last Thurs­day by virtue of a to­tal of 14 war­rants of ar­rests for mul­ti­ple mur­der, frus­trated mur­der and at­tempted mur­der is­sued in Bo­hol and Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal prov­inces.

Also ar­rested were al­leged un­der­lings of Tan, Lo­pito Pagueg­bao and Ed­die Cul­la­mat, who also had pend­ing war­rants of ar­rests.

Aguilar said that they have al­ready turned-over Tan to the court and they don't have any hold on him any­more.

He how­ever said that as per their re­ceived in­tel­li­gence re­port, Tan is still an ac­tive mem­ber of the Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines-New Peo­ple's Army (CPP-NPA) and is even hold­ing a po­si­tion of au­thor­ity, con­trary to the claim of the fam­ily.

Last Mon­day, the fam­ily of Tan to­gether with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Kara­p­atan Cebu went to Cebu Pro­vin­cial Po­lice Of­ficeIn­tel­li­gence Branch to have a di­a­logue with branch chief Joie Pac­ito Yape re­gard­ing Tan's sit­u­a­tion, but the chief was not around.

Mean­while, the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Gen­eral Rey Leonardo Guerero has urged ranks to pour ef­forts into in­ten­si­fy­ing counter-in­sur­gency in the re­gion as pre­cau­tion against mil­i­tant spillovers in Cen­tral Visayas fol­low­ing the re­cently con­cluded Marawi City siege.

Guerero was the guest of honor for AFPCENTCOM's 16th found­ing an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion held yes­ter­day.

Guerero did not dis­count the pos­si­bil­ity that rem­nants of the rebel group will cross bor­ders and may come ashore in Cen­tral Visayas.

He how­ever, said that the AFP and its re­gional de­tach­ments are do­ing their best to pre­vent ter­ror­is­tic spillovers from sow­ing chaos in the re­gion.

“Posi­bil­i­dad ta­laga yun ano, pero ga­nun pa man, bin­a­ban­tayan natin to. Mag­tu­tu­long-tu­long tayo para mapre­vent natin,” Guerero said.

Guerero as­sured that the AFP is fully co­or­di­nat­ing with lo­cal gov­ern­ment coun­ter­parts.

Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Os­car Lac­tao, AFPCENTCOM Com­man­der, said in his speech that there are seven ex­ist­ing in­ter­a­gency ini­tia­tives ded­i­cated to se­cu­rity and safety.

In his speech dur­ing the an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion, Lac­tao said that in over a year, CENT­COM was able to ini­ti­ate fifty gov­ern­ment com­bat oper­a­tions and suc­cess­fully ar­rested 44 in­di­vid­u­als from the NPA, which also led to the re­cov­ery of 54 firearms.

He added that this ac­com­plish­ment is a credit to the col­lec­tive ef­fort of the per­son­nel of CENT­COM.

“You (CENT­COM per­son­nel) have dis­played ef­fec­tively the very pur­pose of our ex­is­tence as an or­ga­ni­za­tion. Let us con­tinue our ef­forts, and let our ac­tion speak for the Visayas. Rest as­sured we would carry out the best out­comes,” Lac­tao said.

Guer­rero also con­grat­u­lated the lead­er­ship of AFP-CENT­COM in suc­cess­fully end­ing the clash in Bo­hol ear­lier in April.

Guerero and Lac­tao of­fered a white bou­quet of flow­ers to a shrine sig­ni­fy­ing the brav­ery of the sol­diers who died in the line of fire.

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