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35 ‘MNLF rebs’ nabbed in Rizal

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) arrested some 35 suspects who identified themselves as members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Rizal.

The suspects were caught illegally discharging firearms and engaged in illegal paramilitary training.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that based on reports from officials of Bgy. Guinayang, San Mateo, the suspects who are not residents of the area, set up camp in the upper portion of the barangay, and were seen indiscriminately discharging firearms. They were also caught in what appeared to be a paramilitary training formation.

Año said this prompted the PNP Rizal Provincial Police Office (PPO) and the 80th Infantry Battalion (IB) to conduct a joint operation which led to the arrest of the group led by a certain Lydia Panuelo.

Año said police and army operatives caught most of the group members illegally wearing military uniforms while in formation and violating Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines on minimum health protocols (i.e, not wearing face masks and face shields and disregarding physical distancing).

Wearing of AFP and PNP uniforms by civilians is already a violation of the law. We will make sure that these people will be penalized. Pinababaklas ko na rin sa mga barangay officials at sa LGU ang mga illegal structures na tinayo nila sa lugar,” Año said.

Meanwhile, PNP Calabarzon Chief P/BGen Felipe Natividad said a certain Deogenes Rodriguez reportedly talked to the group and promised to give P300,000 to each of member after their training “prior to deployment to Mindanao“.

Natividad said that unlike real MNLF, the arrestes suspects did not speak Arabic or any Mindanao language but were mostly fluent in Tagalog. The PNP and AFP are now validating their alleged affiliation with the MNLF.

Año called on the public to immediately report similar incidents to authorities and to refrain from joining such activities as they will be dealt with the full force of the law.

Sa ating mga kababayan, maging mapanuri po tayo sa mga sasalihang grupo. Huwag po basta-basta maengganyo sa mga pangako ng mga nanghihikayat na grupo,” he said.

Recovered during the operation were two caliber 45 pistols in their possession, several ammunition, assorted army uniforms, five handheld radios and a jungle knife.

The suspects are now detained at the San Mateo Municipal Police Station. Cases for violation of Republic Act (RA) 11332, RA 10591 and usurpation of public authority are now being prepared for filing against them before the Prosecutor’s Office.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight
Jun I. Legaspi
Reporter, People's Tonight