By Manilyn Ugalde
LEGAZPI CITY, 12July2013 – Media practitioners in Albay have expressed disgust over the way the top police official in Bicol handled the press conference on the surrender of an alleged New People’s Army rebel operating in Donsol.
They also want an investigation into the alleged surrender of Merjel O. Nebria alias Ka Joy, reportedly vice commanding officer of the NPA Larangan No. 2 operating in Donsol, Sorsogon, as they said they doubt the information they got from him and the police.
The Philippine National Police regional office here presented Nebria to the media Tuesday afternoon.
Chief Supt. Clarence Guinto, Bicol Regional Police Office director, said Nebria’s surrender was arranged by Sr. Insp. Jim Vargas Jeremias, Donsol police chief.
Jeremias claimed it took him seven months of negotiations before he was able to convince Nebria to surrender with his .357 magnum revolver.
He said Nebria, 41, had been with the revolutionary movement for 18 years.
The surrender of Nebria came after eight NPA guerrillas were killed in an ambush in a remote village in Juban, Sorsogon, on July 4.
Among the casualties were Ka Greg Bañares, the popular NPA-National Democratic Front spokesman in the Bicol region, and his wife.
The other prominent casualty was another NPA leader identified as Ramir Anonuevo, alias ka Nene, a member of the NPA Special Operations Group.
Ka Nene has been linked by the police in the killing of labor leader and Alex Boncayao Brigade chief Popoy Lagman in 1981 inside the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus, and the killing of former NPA chief Romulo Kintanar in 2003 at a Quezon City restaurant.
During the press conference at the PNP regional headquarters at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here, Guinto presented Nebria as a high-ranking NPA official who voluntarily surrendered because of the failed promises of the underground movement’s top leadership.
The media men present asked permission to interrogate Nebria and Guinto obliged.
Guinto, however, would interrupt questions from media men seeking even simple information, on the excuse these might incriminate Nebria.
He did not even hide his displeasure against the media for asking questions that he did not like.
When a radio reporter asked Nebria if he knew the slain Ka Greg Bañares, the alleged former NPA member answered “no.”
When a follow-up question on why he could not recognize Ka Greg when he had been 18 years in the underground movement and holding the position of a vice commanding officer, the interrogator was cut short by Guinto, saying Ka Joy was only Grade 4 and should not be interrogated that way.
Once in a while, Guinto would ask Nebria not to be intimidated by the media members as “they are intelligent and educated,” which the media men present felt as an indirect insult.
One reporter asked the the Donsol police chief about Nebria’s occupation when he joined the NPA at age 23, as a backgrounder, Guinto suddenly interrupted the question, telling the media man not to belittle Nebria.
“I know you media men are graduates and educated while Ka Joy was an elementary dropout, but don’t belittle him,” Guinto was quoted as saying.
What puzzled the media men present was why would a 41-year-old former vice commanding officer of the NPA and was with the underground movement for 18 years operating in Sorsogon would not recognize Bañares as the NDF spokesman for many years in the region.
Another media man asked Nebria as to what forced him to join the underground at age 23 and what prompted him to surrender, but again the PNP regional commander commented that “Ka Joy does not deserve to be interrogated that way.”
Rose Olarte-Orbita of ABS-CBN dzMM Radio said, “I was hurt when Guinto censured my questions, followed by an admonition from him.”
Mar Arguelles of the Inquirer asked Guinto not to be offended by their questions, explaining “editors would also ask the same questions to us when we file our story.”
But the PNP Bicol chief appeared unconvinced.
“We waited for one hour for the scheduled press conference and yet we got a shabby treatment from Guinto,” said a disgusted Rhaydz Barcia of the Manila Times.
Media practitioners, including members of the Bicol Correspondents League and the Albay-Legazpi Press Association, Inc., said they would prepare a resolution expressing disgust and disappointment over the perceived arrogance of Guinto during the press conference, saying the regional director cannot even stop illegal gambling in the region. (PNA)