Bayan-Panay leader nabbed for murder raps

Activist Elmer Forro was arrested Tuesday by combined police and military troopers. (Photo from Bayan-Panay FB page)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

A ranking leader of left-leaning group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Panay was arrested March 29, 2022 in Cabatuan, Iloilo.

Bayan-Panay’s secretary general Elmer Forro, 52, was collared over accusations that he took part in an ambuscade that happened almost two years ago in Lambunao town.

The incident happened in the middle of a truce following the onset of COVID-19 pandemic.

It was considered a breach of truce as the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) allegedly ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to observe a ceasefire with government forces starting 12 a.m. of March 26, 2020 until 11:59 p.m. on April 15, 2020.

On the other hand, the government announced the ceasefire a week earlier on March 19 until April 15.

The ambush claimed the life of Private First Class Mark Nemis, a member of the Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade.

In a press statement, the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) labeled Forro as an “alleged active member of Communist Terrorist Group (CTG)” operating in the central part of Panay.

Forro, a resident of Barangay Cagamutan Norte, Leganes, Iloilo, was arrested at Sitio Bangko, Barangay Lutac, Cabatuan.

Members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group – 6 (CIDG-6), the Regional Intelligence Division 6 (RID-6), a team from the Special Action Force and the AFP, the Iloilo Police Provincial Office-Provincial Intelligence Unit, Cabatuan Municipal Police Station, and Lambunao Municipal Police Station nabbed Forro for murder docketed as Criminal Case Number 21-0909 and attempted murder in Criminal Case Number 21-0908.

Judge Gemalyn Faunillo-Tarol of the Regional Trial Court Branch 76 in Januiay, Iloilo issued the arrest warrant on March 5, 2021.

No bail was set for the murder case while a P120,000 bail was recommended for the attempted murder.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Solis, PRO-6 spokesperson, said they classified Forro as a “CTG” because he was positively identified as one of the rebels who carried out the ambuscade.

“The fact that he was with the armed NPA group that killed a soldier makes him a CTG member,” he said.

Police accounts claimed that Forro was with more or less 19 other rebels who ambushed 301st Brigade soldiers around 5:45 a.m. of April 7, 2020 at Sitio Agilan, Barangay Panuran, Lambunao, Iloilo.

The soldiers were heading to the barangay proper to conduct information dissemination when they engaged the rebels.

Nemis, a native of Madalag, Aklan, was instantly killed.

Forro was one of the CTG members identified by the members of Philippine Army during the said firefight, Solis said.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Flynn Dongbo, Western Visayas police chief, lauded the operating personnel for taking immediate action on the warrant of arrest received.

“Your action bespeaks of your dedication and commitment to make individuals with warrants of arrest answer the crime they’ve committed,” he said.

The region’s top cop added that Forro’s arrest showed that no one is above the law.

“Wherever these wanted persons hide, they will be reached by the long arms of justice,” he said.

Forro is now in the custody of CIDG-6 for documentation prior to his presentation to the court.