PH Army: NPA further weakened with death of ranking leader
DAVAO CITY — The military said the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao is further weakened with the death of another ranking leader in a clash with government troops in Davao de Oro province on Wednesday.
Menandro Villanueva, 69, was killed in an encounter in Barangay Libudon, Mabini town, Davao de Oro on Wednesday evening.
Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante, commander of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade, said the rebel’s former comrades, who now work for the Army, identified the remains as that of Villanueva as the fallen NPA leader, which was brought to a local hospital.
Durante said Villanueva suffered gunshot wounds in several parts of his body.
Durante added that the Army was tipped about the rebels’ presence in Libudon; hence, troops were deployed there.
Earlier, Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said Villanueva had been facing a murder case and had a P5.6 million price on his head.
Villanueva’s death comes two months after the killing of another top rebel leader, Jorge ‘Ka Oris’ Madlos in Bukidnon.
Although not publicly known like Madlos, Villanueva, known in the NPA circles as Bok, was the longest serving secretary of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), according to the military.
In addition, the military said Villanueva heads the CPP’s Komisyong Mindanao (Kommid), a member of the politburo of the CPP’s central committee, and chief of the NPA’s National Operations Command.
The government has designated the CPP as a terrorist organization, along with its armed wing, the NPA, and political front, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said it will take some time to replace someone of Villanueva’s experience, which means his death was a big blow to the rebels.
Almerol said that Villanueva was a native of Silang, Cavite and was among the pioneers of building the NPA in Mindanao.
He added that they are expecting more NPA fighters to either surrender “or continue to suffer defeats under an inexperienced leader in the coming days.”
Almerol has ordered an “increase (in the) operational tempo” of government troops especially in the Caraga region where, he said, the NPA continue to maintain some pockets of strongholds.
In its 2021 yearned report, the Eastmincom said that they have neutralized over 2,000 NPA members and sympathizers and dismantled eight guerrilla fronts. With Ryan D. Rosauro
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