Five members of alleged left-leaning groups arrested in Tacloban

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Authorities arrested five alleged members, including Frenchie Cumpio (left) and Marielle Domequil (right), of left-leaning groups in two separate operations in Tacloban City, Leyte (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 7) — Authorities arrested five alleged members of left-leaning groups in two separate operations in Tacloban City, Leyte, on Friday.

The police and the Army conducted a raid at 2 a.m. in Calanipawan Road and arrested Frenchie Cumpio or “Pen,” who is allegedly the secretary of the Regional White Area Committee (RWAC-EVRPC) and Marielle Domequil or “Maye," also an alleged member of RWAC-EVRPC and finance officer of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas. Cumpio was also an anchor of radio program Lingganay han Kamatuuran.

At the same time, police caught Mira Legion of Bayan-Eastern Visayas, Marissa Cabaljo of People Surge Network and Alexander Abinguna of Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas in a separate raid in Barangay 77.

The Army's 8th Infantry Division said in a statement the members were arrested for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the "Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act”. The raiding teams said they recovered and confiscated pistols, live ammunition, two grenades and a red flag with the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army symbol. 

The Army added that the raids were in response to a search warrant issued by Executive Judge Eligio Petilla of Regional Trial Court Branch 44.

The individuals are currently in the custody of the regional police.

A few organizations condemned the arrest of two of the individuals.

The University of the Philippines College of Development Communication Student Council called the arrest of Legion and Domequil "illegal" and a "cowardly act." Legion and Domequil were graduates of the University of the Philippines Visayas.

Gabriela Youth also denounced the arrest of the two and called for their release. The group said Legion and Domequil were former members of the organization's team in Metro Tacloban.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines also called for the release of all arrested individuals, who it is now calling the "Leyte 5"

The Army maintained that the arrests were lawful.

"Incidental to the lawful search, the government security forces arrested the [Communist Terrorist Group] personalities who were found to have an actual and/or constructive control and possession of illegal firearms, ammunitions and other contraband items inside the searched houses," it said.

Tacloban-based journalist Wil Mark Amazona contributed to this report.