DAVAO CITY — As top the leadership of the communist rebels in Mindanao fell one by one, the military claimed that communist rebels are apparently losing foothold in Bukidnon as the rebels are believed to be seeking refuge in the neighboring Lanao del Sur province.
Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt.Gen. Greg Almerol described the rebel group like “running like a headless monster” with the recent death of yet another alleged ranking rebel leader.
In a statement, Almerol said government forces neutralized Pedro Codaste alias Gonyong or Serv, who is said to be the second top-ranking New People’s Army (NPA) commander, in firefight against combined military units at Brgy Kalabugao, Impasugong, Bukidnon on January 21.
Codaste is believed to be the acting chairperson of the of the NPA’s Komisyun Mindanao (KOMMID) after the death of Antonio Cabanatan, Jorge Madlos, and Menandro Villanueva, the military said.
“We are seeing a snowball of surrender in the coming days with the successful neutralization of another CTG head. This is possible as the operational balance of the CTG continues to crumble while the morale of their followers depletes after a series of engagements with our troops,” Almerol added.
Moreover, the military said that slain rebel leader was also a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) Central Committee, National Democratic Front (NDF) Consultant, Deputy Secretary KOMMID, former Secretary of Guerilla Front 4A (GF4A) in Agusan del Sur during the early ’90s, and later became Secretary of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee in 2009.
Aside from Codaste, another rebel was also killed whom the military only identified as certain Zandro.
The military said the rebel leader had several warrants of arrest for murder, double frustrated murder, and attempted murder from the Regional Trial Court, 10th Judicial Region of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon since August 2018.
The government forces recovered an AK47 assault rifle, a.45 caliber pistol, an anti-personnel mine, three backpacks with personal belongings, and some subversive documents at the encounter site.
Almerol further claimed that more NPA rebels are expected to surrender following the death of their leaders, saying that they cannot survive at the hands of inexperienced leaders.
Last week, government forces also recovered more firearms and war materiel following a series of clashes in the tri-boundaries of the municipalities of Amai Manabilang, Lumba-Bayabao, and Maguing, all in Lanao del Sur on January 20.
Following the two-hour firefight, troops under the First Special Forces Battalion recovered two M16 rifles, an M653 rifle, an M14 rifle, an AK-47 rifle, assorted magazines for M16, M14 and AK-47, five linked of ammunitions for M60 GPMG, 208 rounds of AK-47 ammunitions, three bandoliers, four cellphones, assorted medical supplies and paraphernalia, backpacks with personal belongings, subversive documents, and food supplies.
On January 8, Special Forces operators also clashed with the same group that left an alleged rebel leader killed identified as alias Rasty/Ade/Hansel, the Political Officer/Team Leader of Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad (SRSDG).
According to reports, Bukidnon is said to be the base of the Kommid until the death of Madlos alias Ka Oris, who is said to be the chief of the NPA’s National Operations Command.
After the death of Madlos in a firefight with the military in Impasug-ong on October 30 last year, the military said that it would be the start of the downfall of the communist movement in Mindanao.
“The CTG in Bukidnon has been running away from the government forces towards unfamiliar terrain such as in Lanao del Sur as communities in their former mass bases have already declared them persona-non-grata,” Almerol pointed out.