Suspected NPA commander falls

ILOILO City – A suspected commanding officer of the New People’s Army (NPA) wanted for 15 years has been arrested in Barangay Sto. Angel, Dumalag, Capiz.

Facing a string of murder and attempted murder charges, the 54-year-old Baltazar Saldo is now in the custody of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) here.

He was served with five arrest warrants – issued in 2004 yet – in his house at around 1:05 p.m. on June 23 by operatives of the PRO-6 and Armed Forces of the Philippines.

According to PRO-6 director, Brigadier General John Bulalacao, Saldo had a P1,050,000 bounty approved by the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of National Defense.

The suspect was the commanding officer of the NPA’s Roger Mahinay Command – Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, said Bulalacao.

Saldo has been charged with the following:

* two counts of attempted murder – arrest warrant issued on December 2004 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 61 in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental

* murder – arrest warrant issued by RTC Branch 64 in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental on Dec. 13, 2004

* murder and attempted murder – arrest warrant issued by RTC Branch 64

The courts did not allow Saldo to post bail for his murder cases.

Bulalacao said Saldo was using the name “Virgilio Paragan” as NPA commanding officer in Negros.

“For so many years the suspect lived freely until we were able to produce witnesses that positively identified him,” said Bulalacao.

One of the witnesses was a son of a former rebel under the suspect’s command, according to the PRO-6 chief.

Saldo denied being an NPA rebel and insisted he had not been to Negros. He said he had been working as truck driver of a family in Cuartero, Capiz.

“Grabe nga mga kaso ang ginpatong nila sa akon. Indi ako NPA, pobre lang ako nga driver,” Saldo told Panay News./PN


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