NPA leader in Iloilo is 9th casualty in Miag-ao clash – Army

Published December 4, 2021, 12:21 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The death toll in an armed encounter between the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Miag-ao, Iloilo has risen to nine, the military reported on Saturday, Dec. 4.

Joven Ceralvo (Photo: 3rd Infantry Division)

The latest casualty was identified as Joven Ceralvo alias “Lex,” the alleged top NPA personality in Iloilo.

Major Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commanding officer of the 3ID, said Ceralvo was the second deputy secretary of the Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay (SF KR-P) and commanding officer of the group’s Front Operational Command (FOC).

Ceralvo oversaw the operations of the group in Iloilo and in nearby provinces in Western Visayas, and was facing numerous criminal cases including rebellion, frustrated murder, multiple attempted murder, robbery, and arson, the military commander added.

Ceralvo’s body was found during the clearing operations at the encounter site in Barangay Alimodias.

It is where the troops from the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) and 301st Infantry Battalion (301IB) battled around 50 to 70 rebels last Dec. 1. The rebel group was supposedly planning their attack to a military outpost in Iloilo ahead of the 53rd founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Dec. 26 when the encounter happened.

Meanwhile, the eight other slain rebels were already identified by the military through the help of the Philippine National Police’s Scene of the Crime Operatives (PNP SOCO).

They were Roger Pedro, from San Remigio, Antique; Leonard Taburete and Liezel Tacuel, both from Tubungan, Iloilo; Gerly Tejeros, from Tigbauan, Panay; Rica Nudgara from Miag-ao, Iloilo; Eugene Estopido Talibo, from Igbaras, Iloilo; Juveniel Sandig; and a certain Inday / Jeboy, from San Joaquin, Iloilo.

Pedro was allegedly the vice commander of the Suyak Platoon of SF KR-P while Tejeros was the wife of Ceralvo and an “instructor” in the group. The rest of the casualties allegedly occupied various posts in their respective platoons, according to Arevalo.

Arevalo said the casualty count could further increase since clearing and pursuit operations were still ongoing.

“We are still confirming reports of more deaths and wounded [members] from their group,” he said.

“Let this be a lesson to them that they are not confronting Boy Scouts. The Armed Forces is a well-capable and formidable force,” he stated.

The general also denied the accusations of several rights group, particularly Bayan Muna, that there was an “overkill” in their operation.

“Seventy armed men is not an easy opponent. We have to bring in all the might and fire power of the Armed Forces in these kinds of operations,” he said.