Top 2 NPA leader falls in skirmish

The Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) LtGen. Greg T. Almerol describes the current situation of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao as “running like a headless monster” as Pedro Codaste alias Gonyong/Serv, the 2nd top-ranking NPA Commander in Mindanao falls at the hands of combined military units following an encounter at Brgy Kalabugao, Impasugong, Bukidnon on January 21, 2022. 

Following EastMinCom’s direction to intensify the military offensives against the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG), combined forces of the 4th Infantry Division’s (4ID) 402nd Brigade, 16th Infantry Battalion, Special Action Force (SAF) of Philippine National Police (PNP), and intel units launched an operation in the said area in response to reliable information from concerned citizens about the presence of an armed group. 

Troops figured in a 30-minute firefight against an estimated 15 fully armed CTG which resulted in the death of Codaste and a certain alias Zandro. 

They also recovered two firearms composed of an AK47 Rifle, a Caliber .45 Pistol, an Anti-Personnel Mine (APM), three backpacks with personal belongings, and subversive documents at the encounter site. 

Codaste was considered as the Acting Chairman of the NPA’s Komisyun Mindanao (KOMMID) after the death of Antonio Cabanatan, Jorge Madlos, and Menandro Villanueva. 

He 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. 

The EastMinCom Commander assessed that just as what happened after the death of Ka Oris and Ka Bok, two of the top-ranking NPA leaders in Mindanao, more NPA personalities will yield to the troops as they cannot survive at hands of inexperienced leaders. 

“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,” he said. 

Meanwhile, LtGen. Almerol reiterated his call to the remaining CTG members to surrender peacefully instead of following the path of their slain leaders. 

“May you follow the steps of your former comrades who are now living a peaceful and comfortable life under the care of the government as beneficiaries of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). All you need to do is make that decisive action to peacefully surrender and we will ensure your safety and protection,” LtGen. Almerol said. 

“We abhor the idea of bloodshed and we do not want to see another rebel dying for the sake of a failed ideology. Surrender now instead of wasting your lives,” he emphasized. 

LtGen. Almerol also applauded the people living in the communities for their proactive sharing of information to the military “which has been instrumental in the success of its operations in Eastern Mindanao.” 

He also commended the troops of 4ID, PNP, and intel units for the successful neutralization of another most wanted NPA leader in Eastern Mindanao.” 

“Your exemplary job is a true source of inspiration for all Filipino people who strive to make the country better in pursuit of peace and development. Keep up the good work!” the EastMinCom Commander said.