A leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed in a gunfight with soldiers of the 88th Infantry Battalion in Bukidnon on Saturday.
Capt. Ryan Layug, the Civil-Military Operations (CMO) officer of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, said the intensified offensive combat operations were conducted following the recent instruction of President Duterte to the AFP to crush the NPA.
The fatality was identified as Joven Manggatawan alias Amana. The gunfight transpired in the forested area in Sitio Bangkalawan, Barangay Lumintao, Quezon, Bukidnon around 9:30 a.m. on September 28.
He was said to be the leader of Sentro de Grabidad platoon of CPP-NPA’s Company Thunder, Subregional Command 2 of North Central Mindanao Regional Committee terrorizing southern Bukidnon areas.
“This NPA group made earlier claims of being responsible for attacks and atrocities on civilian farm compounds and destruction of civilian-owned equipment in southern Bukidnon,” He said.
Brig. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, said, “We have exhausted ways to reach out to the NPA as we tried to convince them to return to the folds of law and live a peaceful life with their families.”
“We have so far convinced 110 regular NPAs but there are still those who opted to remain. They would have to face the might of the military,” de Leon said.
“While we extend our hands to offer peace, we are also duty-bound to use sufficient military force against those who continue to terrorize civilians and destroy civilian properties,” he said, adding that “The constitution mandates the AFP to protect the people, and we will not remiss with that mandate.”
Also, Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, said the NPA leaders must be prosecuted in courts for violating the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which is punishable under Republic Act 9851.
Gacal said the victims must be indemnified by the CPP-NPA. “The NDF must investigate and explain to the public why the NPA keeps on attacking civilians,” he added.
Accordingly, the fleeing NPAs left behind one M16 rifle; two anti-personnel mines banned by the Ottawa Conventions; one rifle grenade; two ammunition magazines for M16 rifle; one ammunition magazine for AK47 rifle; one Baofeng brand commercial radio; six 20-liter water containers filled with rice grain; assorted personal belongings and subversive documents.