The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed the filing of charges against a Quezon Provincial Board Member for allegedly coddling two suspected top members of the New People's Army (NPA) who were arrested inside her home in Atimonan, Quezon last December 26.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said Provincial Board Member Rhodora Tan of the Fourth District of Quezon should be held criminally and administratively liable for allegedly coddling in her own residence at Brgy Zone 3, Poblacion, Atimonan, Quezon two members of the NPA namely Ruel Custodio alias “Baste” and Ruben Istokado alias “Oyo Miles,” both of whom have standing warrant of arrests.
Custodio is a finance officer of the Sub-Regional Military Area-4 of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee while Istokado is a political instructor of L1, KP1 of the Bicol Regional Party Committee of the CPP-NPA.
"Paano maipapaliwanag na sa bahay niya mismo nasakote ang mga NPA? Hindi tama na kanlungin at proteksyunan ang mga kaaway ng bayan na matagal nang nagpapahirap sa mga mamamayan.Mas mabigat ang asunto dito kapag ikaw ay isang public official,"said Año.
The DILG Secretary expressed disbelief that a public official whose sworn duty is to promote and protect the interest and welfare of the public provided shelter and refuge to known enemies of the people.
"Imbis na kayo ang manguna sa pagsuplong sa mga teroristang ito, kayo pa mismo ang kumakanlong sa kanila.Nasaan ba talaga ang loyalty ninyo -- para sa bayan at sa demokrasya o para sa mga terorista at komunismo?,"he said.
According to the DILG Chief, Tan could face up to six years in jail if found guilty of obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree 1829."Puwede rin siyang kasuhan as an accomplice or accessory to the crimes committed by the NPA members kapag napatunayan na involved siya or may effort on her part to protect them,"he said.
At the same time, Año said Tan will also be facing administrative liabilities for Disloyalty to the Republic under Civil Service Commission Rules and Administrative Order 23, series of 1992."Under the said AO,Tan can either be removed or suspended from office when found guilty,”he said.
Similarly, under Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees, civil servants are expected to"at all times be loyal to the Republic and to the Filipino people"and"uphold the Constitution and put loyalty to country above loyalty to persons or party."
Año said that while the number of local government units declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People's Army as persona non grata are increasing, it is disappointing to encounter a handful of public officials who covertly support, directly or indirectly, the cause of communist terrorist groups.
"Doble kara ang ilan sa ating mga local officials. Huwag kayong magkubli sa posisyon ninyo sa gobyerno dahil ang tunay na kulay ninyo pala ay pula.Wala kayong karapatang manatili sa pamahalaan,"he said.
Kudos to PNP, AFP
Año commended the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the successful arrest of Custodio and Estokado.“Congratulations to our police and military operatives for a job well done.The absence of a ceasefire requires our police and military to be on their toes 24/7 even during the holidays, and the arrest of the two CTG officers attests to their continued vigilance,”he said.
In a spot report submitted by the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 4A, Año said joint elements of the PNP and AFP served the warrant of arrest to both Custodio and Istokado for Violation of Article 267 (Kidnapping) of the RPC and Violation of Republic Act No. 10591 inside Tan's house.
The DILG Chief said Custodio was responsible for collecting/extorting “revolutionary taxes” in the province of Quezon and was charged with kidnapping on July 17, 2019 and illegal possession of firearms in November 27, 2019.
On the other hand, Año said Istokado was responsible for spreading CTG propaganda and recruitment to replenish the diminishing ranks of CTGs in the area and was also charged with double murder and multiple murder in September 4, 2014.
Authorities confiscated one hand grenade, one Bersa cal .38, and one magazine containing 13 live ammunition from Custodio. Likewise, Istokado yielded one cal 45 pistol with one magazine containing six live cartridges.
In addition, one hand grenade and one Jericho Cal 9mm pistol with two magazines containing live ammunition reportedly belonging to the two suspects were also turned in to the Atimonan municipal police station.
The two suspects were taken to the Quezon police provincial office for documentation and proper disposition.
“This important arrest proves that we are gaining more traction in our whole-of-nation approach towards achieving sustainable and lasting peace. Hopefully, we can finally put an end to this decades-old armed conflict as we move towards post-COVID 19 recovery,”Año said.