Top communist leader ‘Bok’ killed in Davao de Oro clash

Top-ranking communist leader Menandro Villanueva, alias “Bok” was killed in an encounter with the troopers of 1001st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army Wednesday evening (Jan. 5) in Barangay Libudon, Mabini town in Davao de Oro.

Villanueva’s death was confirmed by Capt. Mark Anthony Tito, the public affairs chief of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division (10ID) in a statement Thursday (Jan. 6).

Tito said Villanueva, who has a bounty of PHP5.6 million, is the longest-serving Secretary of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Villanueva also serves as the Secretary of the Komisyong Mindanao (KOMMID) and the Commanding Officer of the NPA’s National Operations Command (NOC). He is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The slain communist leader has been in the movement for years as is among the founding members of the NPA in Mindanao in the middle of the 70s.

Villanueva has supervised the operations of the NPA in Mindanao for years being the head of the group’s NOC.

During his student years at the Ateneo de Manila, Villanueva was an activist under the leftist group Kabataang Makabayan. He went underground when Martial Law was declared in 1972.

Tito said concerned citizens on Wednesday reported the presence of NPA rebels in their locality that caused fear among residents.

The report prompted Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, the commander of 1001st Brigade, to send troops in the area that resulted in an encounter, he added.

Tito said the NPA rebels belonged to the Regional Headquarters of SMRC where Villanueva was co-located.

The report said he was hit in several parts of his body resulting in his death.

“For now, the troops are still conducting pursuit operations to the fleeing communist rebels,” Tito said.

In a separate statement Thursday, Durante commended the troops’ prompt and deliberate actions which further contributed to the peace efforts of the whole Davao Region.

“The 51-year reign of terror of Menandro Villanueva is finally over. His victims were finally given justice. Alias Bok has several warrants of arrest, to include multiple murder, double frustrated murder, arson, robbery with intimidation, rebellion, among others,” Durante said.

He further renewed his call to the fleeing NPAs to “Surrender now while you still can. Don’t wait to suffer the same fate as Menandro Villanueva. The government is always willing to accept you if you decide to return to the folds of the law.”

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr, the commander of the 10ID commended all the troopers, particularly the 1001st Brigade for their outstanding performance in pursuing the most wanted leader.

“This is a clear manifestation that the CPP-NPA in the whole Mindanao is losing ground. Mindanao’s most wanted terrorist is finally neutralized by your Agila Troopers (10ID). They have nowhere to hide because the masses are already fed up with the abuses and extortion they perpetrated for more than five decades. The death of Menandro Villanueva signals that the end of the Communist insurgency in Mindanao is already at hand,” Torres added.

He added that 10ID troopers are still in pursuit of known NPA personalities namely Eric Casilao alias Wally/Elian, and his party wife May Casilao alias Gab, both high ranking members of SMRC.

Casilao, the current secretary of SMRC, carries a P5.4 million bounty on his head.