The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) applauded on Sunday, Oct. 31, the operating troops under the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) for the “successful” combat operations that led to the death of Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, the spokesperson of the New People’s Army (NPA), in Impasugong, Bukidnon.
Madlos, the commander and spokesperson of the NPA’s national operations command and spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao, was allegedly killed in an encounter with the 403rd Infantry Brigade of the 4ID on Saturday dawn.
Colonel Ramon Zagala, AFP spokesperson, described Madlos’ death as a “major blow” to the communist groups in Mindanao which will “usher in eventual peace in the region.”
“Ka Oris was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of soldiers and civilians for decades as he perpetuated a violent armed struggle that struck terror to our people who only desire peace in solving our country’s problems,” Zagala said.
“His death will deter the activities and plans by the NPA for he can no longer direct the communist terrorists’ violent actions against our people,” he added.
Madlos, 73, was the second “big fish” that was neutralized by the military this week. Last Friday, Salahuddin Hassan, the overall “emir” or commander of the Daulah Islamiyah (DI) in the country, was also killed in an armed encounter with the 6th Infantry Division in Talayan, Maguindanao.
Major Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., 4ID commander, said the operating troops launched a joint and combined combat on Saturday at the mountainous area of Sitio Gabunan in Brgy. Dumalaguing.
Accordingly, the 4ID received a tip from a civilian that an armed group believed to be components of the National Operations Command (NOC) of the NPA was conducting teach-ins and indoctrination of new recruits in the community. The tipster also gave the exact location of Madlos’ group to the military.
The assaulting troops from the 8th Infantry Battalion, 1st Special Forces Battalion, and 88th Infantry Battalion reached the hideout of the communists around 12:30 a.m. and detected that it was laden with anti-personnel mines (APM).
The troops called for close air support and delivered air strikes towards the position of Madlos’ group to weaken their defense.
At around 11:30 a.m., or after nearly 12 hours, ground forces conducted the final assault and encountered more or less 30 NPA combatants. The firefight lasted for 30 minutes.
After the gunbattle, the assaulting troops scoured and cleared the area until they discovered Madlos’ body along with another companion who was later identified as Eighfel Dela Pena alias “Pika” or “Maui,” the communications staff and medical staff of the NPA’s NOC.
According to Brawner, Madlos was the top most wanted NPA commander in the country.
Madlos was facing multiple criminal cases that include multiple murder and double frustrated murder (Criminal Case No. 20162-09 and 20163-09), murder (Criminal Case Nos. 20867-10, 20957 to 59-10, 17754-07, L-2628, and L-2629 to 30), and robbery with double homicide and damage to properties (Criminal Case No. 2295).
“Ka Oris’ reign of terror has finally ended. Unfortunately, the consequences of his atrocities led to a tragic ending. Now, justice has been served for those innocent civilians and their communities he terrorized for several decades,” Brawner said.
“His death could be the final blow for the eventual collapse of the communist terrorist group here in our AOR [area of operation]”, he added.
Identification and reward
Brawner said Madlos’ identity was confirmed via physical identification. A photo of his cadaver was shown to former NPA members who surrendered to or captured by the military and they positively identified him.
To verify Madlos’ identity, a DNA sample was also taken on his cadaver which will undergo a DNA testing through the help of the Philippine National Police. Brawner also urged Madlos’ relatives to surface and claim his body so that they can identify him.
Meanwhile, the civilian who gave the tip to the military as to the whereabouts of Madlos will receive the monetary reward for his bounty amounting to P7.8 million.
Brawner noted that Madlos’ wife, Myrna Sularte alias Maria Malaya, is the next top NPA official that they are monitoring in Mindanao. She is the secretary of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) operating in Caraga region.
But Zagala called on the remaining leaders and members of the communist armed movement to surrender and return to the fold of law “and eventually join the path towards peace and development in our country.”
Due to the military operation, all tourist spots in Dumalaguing, Impasugong, Bukidnon were temporarily closed including the ROTY Peaks Ridge Camp, Balakayo Vacation Ranch, Dapag, Mt. Sugaya, Mt. Kulago, and Gulus among others.