CENTCOM: We’re not hiding Paking
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.