MANILA – A top commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Tagalog was killed after an encounter with the combined forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) in Kalayaan, Laguna before midnight on Friday.
Lt. Col. Jesus Diocton, commanding officer of the 1st Infantry Battalion, identified the dead terrorist as Mario Caraig alias Jethro, secretary of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee’s Sub-Regional Military Area 4C.
Reports from the field said the government troops encountered the NPA terrorists at around 11:10 p.m. in Sitio Boho of Barangay San Antonio and recovered one .45-caliber pistol, one 9mm pistol, two hand grenades and voluminous enemy documents.
“It was the second encounter in the area in three days following the Aug. 4 encounter which resulted to the government security forces’ neutralizing three NPAs including the commander of the Main Regional Guerrilla Unit of the NPA of Southern Tagalog whom former rebels positively identified as alias Termo,” Diocton said.
He attributed the successful pursuit operations to “concerned citizens who tipped us about the presence of the armed group who were coercing the people to feed and hide them as they try to avoid the government’s security forces who were closing in on them.”
Brig. Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of 202nd Infantry Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over Laguna, said: “our troops’ ability to close-in with the enemy without being noticed is not only a manifestation of our tactical proficiency but, more importantly, a testament to the fact that these terrorists no longer enjoy any form of support from the community.”
Rillera reported that no casualty was recorded on the part of the government forces.
According to the AFP, alias Jethro is feared by the Indigenous People because he has been coercing the peace-loving Dumagat Remontados to joining and supporting the underground movement.
“The fall of Jethro is a welcome development to the ranks of the IPs because it meant one less terrorist whose primary role is to torment and exploit their fundamental rights,” Rillera said.
Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, congratulated the joint AFP and PNP forces “for the close collaboration and coordination that led to this tactical victory.
He urged them “keep our partnership iron-clad so that peace will finally be won and prosperity will finally be our constituents’ way of life.”
Burgos reiterated the security sector’s “commitment to decimate the few remaining NPA terrorists” in Southern Tagalog.
“The series of neutralization of key NPA leaders will be the final nails in the proverbial coffin which will lead to the dismantling the NPA unit which operates in the provinces of Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan,” he added.
Burgos expressed his gratitude to the concerned citizens whom he called ‘patriots’ who “disregarded their personal safety to pass the information to the government forces knowing that our society will be better off without these communist NPA terrorists who have been thwarting our potentials as a nation.”
“Although we do not rejoice in killing our fellow Filipinos, their liberation from Jethro’s terroristic actions and cruelty is the best gift which RTF ELCAC (Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) can give to our Indigenous People as they commemorate their ‘internationally-recognized day’ on Aug. 9,” he said.
Joint AFP-PNP checkpoints have been established in the area to support the ongoing pursuit operations against the fleeing NPA terrorists.
All available military assets have been placed on high alert.
Alias Jethro used to operate in Batangas and Cavite but was forced to hiding in the Sierra Madres after the terrorists’ Guerrilla Front Honda was dismantled by the 202nd Brigade after the 2018 military campaign. (PR)