ZAMBOANGA CITY – A senior official of the New People’s Army (NPA) and 29 rebels were reportedly killed in an all-out offensive that was launched by the military in central Mindanao, spoiling the Leftist group’s celebration of the 52nd founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Mount Lumuton, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, on Friday, December 25.
Armed Force of the Philippines- Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) Commander Lt Gen Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said on Sunday, December 27, the operating troops destroyed more or less 100 makeshift huts at what was believed to be an NPA camp.
Vinluan said the soldiers also recovered the bodies of three NPA rebels, two high-powered firearms, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), two generators, personal belongings, and propaganda materials
Joint Task Force (JTF) – Central Commander Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy said that “based on an intelligence report, 29 NPA terrorists were killed during the operation, but we are still verifying this for we only recovered three cadavers in the area”.
Uy also reported that the NPA’s top officials in the region – Emmanuel Fernandez, secretary and head of the regional operational command (ROC) in Far South Mindanao Region, and Dennis Dolonan – were killed in the operation.
But Uy was quick to add that this piece of information was still to be confirmed.
“All I can affirm is that we were able to disrupt their assembly and their celebration of the CPP 52nd founding anniversary,” Uy said.
Vinluan said the intensified military operations of the JTF- Central successfully thwarted the holding of a CPP-NPA plenum, and the commemoration of the CPP anniversary in Sultan Kudarat on Christmas Day.
“Our troops under the JTF-Central launched air and ground offensives against the NPAs under Fernandez, alias Bobo, Ampog and Aldok, in Barangay Namat Masla, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat on Christmas day,” he said.
Uy said attack helicopters from the Tactical Operations Group 12 of the Philippine Air Force provided fire support to the commando-style offensive that forced the NPAs to scamper in different directions.
He added that soldiers were also able to neutralize seven NPAs earlier in the week near Mount Lumuton as the soldiers started to mobilize towards Mount Lumuton in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat to hoist the Philippine flag on Friday on a hill surrounded by rainforests in Sultan Kudarat province.
Uy said more than 50 NPAs perished in Mt. Lumuton clashes with soldiers in the area since January this year.
Mt. Lumuton was reported to be the center of convergence for some 200 NPAs, who were scheduled to celebrate the CPP’s 52nd founding anniversary on Christmas day.
Those that were killed were identified as Abner Sanchez, Marco Santos, Efren Lantip, Samuel Orinday, Ruben Alferez, Marcial Tenor and Jaime Zapata.
Abdulsatar Badruddin, executive secretary of the municipal mayor of Palimbang, said our LGU is calling on the remaining NPAs in the jungles of Palimbang to surrender and avail of the government’s reconciliation program.