A member of an extremist crime group was killed, three others were arrested, and two were able to escape during a shootout with joint police and military operatives in Cauayan town, Negros Occidental, Wednesday.
Police identified the fatality as Richanel Noble, 27, while the arrested suspects were identified as Edwin Polinacio, 49, Gilbert Baynosa, 27, and Leo Dela Rosa, 24.
Alleged leaders of the group, Richard Alper, 24 and Riching Villanueva, 27, evaded arrest.
According to Cauayan Police Chief Superintendent Frederick Mead, the shootout happened when authorities responded to a complaint from Barangay Chairman Roselo Delocanog that the suspects fired at him and threatened to kill him Tuesday night.
Mead said they immediately sought the help of the Army and trooped to the suspects’ safe house in Purok 2, Barangay Baclao at about 1 a.m. but when the suspects saw them approaching, they opened fire at them.
“We have no other choice but to retaliate,” Mead said.
Recovered from the suspects were a bolo, two .357-caliber guns, two .38-caliber pistols, three 12-gauge shotguns, a .45-caliber pistol, two improvised guns, assorted magazines, and live ammunition.
Mead said the 12-member group is recruiting members in the village and threatens to kill those who will not join them.
The group has been operating in Cauayan and neighboring towns. Its members have pending arrest warrants for murder, homicide, rape, serious physical injury, and robbery hold-up.
The arrested suspects will be charged with attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms.