By Aaron Recuenco
Soldiers killed a top official of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a brief gunbattle in Laak town of Compostela Valley province on Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Gilbert Ombos, commander of the 60th Infantry Battalion, said the operation was an offshoot of intelligence build-up in the last days that include convincing Marjun Taba to surrender.
Taba, or more known by his alias “Hiker”, is first Deputy Secretary of the CPP-NPA’s Sub-regional Committee 4, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) while also sitting as plenary member of the SMRC.
He has six standing warrants of arrest for the crimes of murder, attempted murder, rebellion, serious illegal detention, double murder, and double frustrated murder.
“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,” said Ombos.
Ombos said that they have even asked for the help of ComVal Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy, Loreto (Agusan Sur) Mayor Lorife Otaza, and Taba’s family to facilitate the latter’s surrender, but to no avail.
Taba still refused to surrender.
On Wednesday, soldiers pinpointed his location in Barangay Kapatagan and led to the conduct of operation.
It led to a five-minute gunfight with Taba and his four followers.
Recovered from the encounter site is Taba’s cadaver alongside his cal .45 pistol and two anti-personnel improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The government has been launching aggressive operations against the communist rebels that include localized peace talks in a bid to comply with President Duterte’s order to finish off the NPA before his term ends in 2022.