PHOTO CAPTION: Maj..Gen. Benedict Arevalo (foreground), commander of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, bared that Joven Ceralvo, one of at least nine NPA rebels killed in the Dec. 1 encounter with government troops, was in fact a fugitive from justice having been charged in court for murder, arson, and extortion activities./iNews (N. Glenn Aragon/Photos courtesy of the Philippine News Agency and the Philippine Army)
ILOILO–The reported leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) platoon who was among the nine known fatalities in the bloody encounter with combined elements of the 61st Infantry Battalion and the 33rd Division Reconnaissance Company in Brgy. Alimodias, Miagao, last week had long been a fugitive from the law for committing a number of crimes in the past.
This, according to Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, who bared that one Joven Ceralvo, estimated to be around 50-years old and a native of Brgy. San Antonio, had been evading justice for some time before his death.
“Matagal na siyang hinahabol ng batas [He had long been hunted by the law for his crimes],” Arevalo quipped.
Based on Army records, Ceralvo is the commanding officer of the Southern Front of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon Panay (Panay Regional Committee) and is described as the “number 1 hangaway (warrior, fighter)” of the communist terrorist group in the island of Panay.
Arevalo said the fallen NPA commander had been tagged as a suspect in many cases ranging from murder, arson, and extortion activities.
“Pagpatay, pagsunog, pagpangikil…talagang tumpok-tumpok ang kaso niya. Sabi ko nga, ‘justice is served for you.’ Matagal na siyang hinahabol ng batas. Tulad ng sabi ko, hindi habang panahon sila’y makakaligtas sa kamay ng batas. Nahabol din sila ng kamay ng batas at pinagbayaran na rin niya ang kanyang kasalanan [Murder, arson, extortion…his cases had been piling up. Like what I said, ‘justice is served for you.’ He had been wanted by the law for a while now. That he would forever evade justice was just never going to happen. Finally, the long arm of the law caught up with him and he was able to pay for all his crimes to the people],” the 3ID chief stated.
Arevalo said they decided to no longer bring Ceralvo’s remains to the funeral parlor and just bury him near the encounter site because “nagkadurug-durog ang katawan niya [his body was completely ].”
He added he believes the total number of fatalities on the enemy’s side is definitely more than the nine that were identified but he acknowledged it would be hard to prove since “medyo nagkalasog-lasog na rin ang kanilang mga katawan [the bodies were mostly crushed].”
Meanwhile, aside from Ceralvo, the eight other fatalities in the December 1 encounter identified by their immediate families were: 1) Eugenio Estopido Talibo alias Africk of Brgy. Indaluyon, Igbaras, and a member of Team 1, Squad 1 of the NPA Southern Front’s Suyak Platoon; 2) Juveniel Sandig alias Francis of Brgy. Langca, San Joaquin, and a member of the Suyak Platoon; 3) Roger Pedro alias Lim/Gurang of Brgy. Osorio 1, San Remigio, Antique, of the NPA Southern Front; 4) Liezel Tacuel alias April/Jare of Brgy. Nagba, Tubungan, and a member of Team 1, Squad 1 of the Suyak Platoon; Noli Sefulan Sernicula alias Inday/Jepoy of Brgy. Iglilico, San Joaquin, and the assistant team leader of Team 1 of Suyak Platoon; and Rica Nudgara alyas Amber/Bebe of Brgy. Tigmalapad, Miagao, and a member of Squad 1 of Suyak Platoon.
Meanwhile, the Army is still checking if it was Leonard Taburete alyas Tatang of Brgy. Bikil, Tubungan, and a team leader of Team 1, Squad 2, who was indeed killed in the encounter.
In addition, the Army is verifying if it was the feet of Girly Tejeros alias Elay of Brgy. Bagumbayan, Tigbauan, and the political instructor of the Suyak Platoon, that were recovered from the scene of the gunfight. He was initially identified through sources of the Army.
As for Ceralvo, known as alias Lex, no family or relative has surfaced to identify what’s left of his body as of press time. Army sources say he was beyond recognition and was identified by his former rebel colleagues through the feet recovered in the area of the gunbattle. (N. Glenn Aragon/iNews)