Five officers of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Catanduanes Field Unit who apprehended the province’s No. 1 most wanted man have been recommended for conferment of the PNP Medalya ng Kagalingan for their feat.
The team, which bagged Bartolome “Ka Bart” Mendoza, the former commander of the Nerissa San Juan command of the New People’s Army in Catanduanes last March 7, 2021, is composed of Lt. Marvin Eslopor as team leader, Lt. Joseph Antiporda as assistant team leader, and, SSg. Kim Blancia, Pat. Nero Santonia and Pat. Henjie Ibo as arresting officers.
In the operation that was conducted in and around the vicinity of the Jollibee branch in Turbina, Calamba, Laguna, the CIDG team was augmented by both covert and overt police and military personnel from CIDG-RFU 5, CIDG-Albay PFU, CIDG-RFU-4A, 83rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, military and police intelligence officers, and the Catanduanes Police Mobile Force companies.
At 11:30 A.M. of said date, the CIDG team served 11 warrants of arrest on the former NPA leader for his role in the 2002 raid on the police station and municipal hall of Bagamanoc and the ambush of Catanduanes police officers in JMA Puniton Virac in 2005 and another ambush in 2014 in Rizal, San Andres.
Also known as Bartolome Batalla, Mendoza has been accused of Frustrated Murder with Direct Assault, Murder with Direct Assault, two counts of Murder with Direct Assault, Robbery, Murder, four counts of Frustrated Murder, and Robbery with Violence Against or Intimidation of Persons. Three of the 11 cases are not bailable.
On Nov. 3, 2001, then Catanduanes police director Supt. Charles Calima Jr. and his passengers, then COMELEC provincial elections supervisor Atty. Ma. Juana Valeza and then former Municipal Trial Court Judge Honesto Morales Sr., were on board his Toyota Corolla on their way to Virac when three teenaged members of the NPA’s Sparrow Unit fired on them with rifles along a curved portion of the highway in barangay Rizal.
With a bullet shattering his left ankle, Calima sped away in zigzag fashion, but with its tires rendered useless, the car crawled to a stop some 100 meters from the ambush site where he dropped towards an embankment. His two passengers managed to get out and ran for safety towards nearby houses.
The rebels allegedly took a case folder containing PLEB documents as well as the Catanduanes PNP’s proposed budget.
According to the charges, Batalla also led the attack on Bagamanoc police station at noon of July 12, 2002 which was then manned by SPO1 Roberto Genaga and PO2 Patrick Panti. The two cops were killed but not after gunning down two of the attackers who came aboard two trucks.
Then police chief Insp. Bairan Sorrera said he and two others were conducting a COMELEC checkpoint at the outskirts of town at the border with Panganiban when the gunfire erupted.
The rebels took two M14 rifles, two M16 rifles, a 12-gauge shotgun, a Cal. 45 pistol and also looted several offices of a desktop computer and printer, UPS, karaoke, calculator, Cal. 38 revolver, cellphone and election supplies.
A blocking force of 15 men stopped vehicles from Panganiban while more than 35 others were at the municipio.
On Valentines Day in 2005, the NPA commander allegedly led the carefully-coordinated attack on the Virac airport security gate in which SPO2 Benigno Tuquero and SPO2 Rodolgfo Cortez were slain.
Then PNP provincial director Senior Supt. Gorgonio Rosero and several of his men boarded a pickup and a van and pursued the fleeing rebels, who were on two motorcycles that sped towards the Buyo area.
Foiled by the swollen river, the police convoy headed back to the poblacion but previously positioned guerillad detonated an improvised explosive device at the side of the road and unleased gunfire on the pinned convoy.
PO1 Arnold Sagrit was hit in the head after he dragged the wounded Rosero out of the vehicle while the latter’s civilian aide, Victoriano Reuyan, took bullets intended for his boss. Aside from the PD, five other policemen were injured in the gunfire.
At the time of his arrest, Ka Bart was reportedly working as a tricycle driver while his wife, reportedly also a former rebel named Ka Chat, was tending to a small store inside the Mabuhay City subdivision in Mamatid, Cabuyao City, Laguna.
The 41-year old native of Ragay, Camarines Sur was born as Richard Neri Lodronio and reached only third year in high school. On the other hand, Ka Chat is allegedly a close relative of an incumbent town mayor in Catanduanes.
After being succeeded by Ka Melwyn in 2006, Ka Bart was reportedly assigned in Sorsogon and then in Tagkawayan, Quezon before deciding to lie low in Laguna while working as finance officer for the NPA.