MANILA, Philippines - Security forces on Saturday morning arrested 42 people while allegedly undergoing a bomb-making training in a resthouse compound in Morong town, Rizal province.
Col. Aurelio Baladad of the Philippine Army's 202nd Infantry Brigade said in a report that the 42 suspects, including 17 men and 26 women, have been brought to the military's Camp Capinpin in Rizal.
Baladad said joint police and military teams were supposed to serve a search warrant against a certain Mario Condes in Barangay Maybangcal, Morong town, when the security forces chanced upon the 42 people, who are being suspects as members of the New People's Army (NPA).
He told abs-cbnNEWS.com in an interview that some of the suspects were caught in act of holding some bomb-making materials.
The military commander said that among those seized from the compound were a .45 pistol, 1 .38 revolver, 3 grenades, a cannister of a 10x12 improvised land mine, 2 pieces of improvised Claymore land mines, 2 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, 7 blasting caps, 36 pieces of improvised dynamite sticks, cellular phones, and backpacks.
He added that troops also seized campaign materials of the Bayan Muna party-list.
Baladad said the suspects could have been undergoing a bomb-making training based on the seized items.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jimmy Galvez-Tan of the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital said that the compound raided by the security forces is owned by their consultant, Dr. Melecia Velmonte.
Galvez-Tan's "SOS" to the media said the raid had no warrant.
Dr. Velmonte, meanwhile, said she was training "health workers" when the security forces swooped down on her resthouse compound on E. Dela Paz Street around 6:15 a.m.. She claimed that the authorities failed to show her the search warrant.
She said that her son, Jose Manuel, was able to talk to a police officer, a certain Superintendent Balonglong, and was shown a photo copy of a search warrant issued by a local court in Imus town, Cavite province.
What medical training?
In a phone interview, Baladad debunked Dr. Velmonte's claims that the suspects arrested are health workers and were undergoing medical training.
"The evidence that were found are certified bomb-making materials. What kind of medical training [are they conducting]?" the military commander said.
He said that aside from the search warrant, they had advanced information of the possible presence of suspected NPA members inside the resthouse.
"We did not expect [to find bomb-making materials] because the subject of the search warrant was firearms," Baladad added.
Baladad said that 2 of the people arrested during the raid are known members of the NPA. He identified the suspects as Franko Romeroso alias Pongkoy, medical officer Komite sa Probinsya (KOMPROB) Batangas and Janice Javier of Barangay Natatas, Tanauan City in Batangas province.
He said the 2 had been previously arrested by the military.