At least 62 persons, including several minors, were arrested while firearms were seized in simultaneous raids launched by police and military operatives in the offices of progressive groups here late Thursday afternoon.
The operations, supported by search warrants issued by a Regional Trial Court in Quezon City, were conducted in the local headquarters of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela, and Anakpawis in Barangay Bata, and two other offices, including the one occupied by the National Federation of Sugar Workers, in Barangay 33.
Col. Henry Biñas, director of Bacolod City Police Office, said on Friday the operations were part of the implementation of the national government’s initiative to end local communist armed conflict.
Those arrested were believed to be members of the so-called legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
Capt. Cenon Pancito III, public affairs head of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said they have received reports from concerned citizens that people occupying these offices have firearms and explosives.
Search warrants were then obtained by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Western Visayas.
At the KMU office in Barangay Bata, operatives apprehended 49 persons, of whom at least 13 were minors. Four were identified as leaders of progressive groups.
Pancito said the site serves as a “training center” of young people who could later become NPA combatants and part of liquidation squads.
Based on the police report, operatives seized 14 caliber .45 pistols, nine caliber .38 revolvers, and a hand grenade.
The structure has a conference room and a library, where subversive documents were found.
At the Gabriela Negros Center, nine persons were rounded up, and four others in the other offices.
The minors were endorsed to the local social welfare office while the other arrested persons were placed under the custody of the police.
Reacting to the arrest of his colleagues, Michael de la Concepcion, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros, claimed that the recovered firearms and explosive were planted.
He also said the arrested persons do not have links to the CPP-NPA. (PNA)