LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (Apr. 23) — Two men suspected as belonging to the splinter Rebolusyunaryong Hukbong Bayan-Marxist Leninist Party of the Philippines (RHB-MLPP) were arrested by Benguet policemen in Sablan town early Monday morning.
Ronald Garcia Magtanong, 26, alias “Ka Vic” from Cabangan town, Zambales province, and Benjamin Blanco Cariaga, 55, alias “Ka Juanito” of barangay Villanueva, Bautista town in Pangasinan, claimed they were in Benguet to investigate and assess the situation of the vegetable farmers.
Police said they tailed Magtanong and Cariaga for days until they cornered them in a comfort room along the national highway in sitio Botot, barangay Banengbeng in Sablan. The two did not resist arrest.
Cariaga admitted membership in the RHB-MLPP, a splinter group that broke off from the CPP-NPA. He claimed that they carried firearms not to fight policemen but were for self-defense only. He said his group want to “educate” the farmers about their situation.
Benguet police director Senior Supt. Virgilio Moro said they monitored Magtanong and Cariaga making rounds the past week in Sablan and nearby Tublay town, also a vegetable farming locality. S/Supt. Moro said the two might have been with another rebel because they carried a third firearm.
One cal. 9-mm Beretta pistol with PNP property markings, a cal. 45 Remington pistol, another cal. 45 Norinco pistol, one fragmentation grenade, ammunition and magazines were seized from the two. Policemen also found two cellular phones, a medicine kit, and P3,440.00 cash.
Police said the Beretta pistol was confirmed to have been seized from policemen while the two other pistols are still being verified if they were carted away also from the government armory.
The two will be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Police said that RHB-MLPP, which they had been hearing about since last year, was a very small group and had minimal presence in Benguet. # Ace Alegre for NORDIS