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Rebel leader killed in clash in Laak, ComVal

A notorious commander of the New People’s Army(NPA) was killed by joint forces of the 60th and 25th infantry battalions, together with the police, in Laak town, Compostela Valley on Wednesday.

1Lt. Amadeuz Vj Celestial, the 60th IB Civil-Military Operations officer, identified him as only as alias Taba or Hiker, the first deputy secretary of the NPA’s Sub-Regional Committee 4, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

The slain rebel had six standing warrants of arrest for murder, attempted murder, rebellion, serious illegal detention, double murder, and double frustrated murder.

Accordingly, soldiers received a tip from local officials on the whereabouts of the rebel leader. Before that, local government officials in Tagum City and Laak have been coordinating with the military to bring in the suspect.

However, Taba rejected any attempts to convince him to surrender.

“We really wanted him to surrender. [And] I believe we have exhausted all means and options to get to that end because we know that there is more to gain if he surrenders as opposed to his dying like this in the field,” Lt. Col. Gilbert Ombos, commander of the 60th Infantry Battalion, said.

Ombos said they sought the help of ComVal Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy, Loreto (Agusan Sur) Mayor Lorife Otaza, and Taba’s family, but to no avail.

The operation to capture Taba was launched on Wednesday morning in Barangay Kapatagan, Laak, leading to a five-minute firefight with at least five armed men. The four others escaped.

Recovered from the encounter site was the slain rebel’s .45 caliber pistol and two anti-personnel improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In a statement, Col. John Oberio, 1001st Infantry Brigade commander, reiterated the government’s call for leaders and members of the CPP-NPA to surrender “sooner rather than later.”

“Everyone knows of the President’s marching orders to end the local communist armed conflict as soon and as quickly as possible,” Oberio said. “This is why the government has stepped up its campaign to bring the CPP-NPA to its knees.”

“But we cannot promise such peace to those who insist on terrorizing our people,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government XI has concluded its three-day “Regional Campaign on Strengthening Reintegration Efforts for Former Rebels and their Immediate Family Members through Convergence and Unified Efforts” held at Grand Regal Hotel from Nov. 25 to 27.

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