CAMP SIONGCO, Awang, DOS, Maguindanao – A high-ranking leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) and two (2) other communist rebels were killed in a series of encounters at Brgy Baluan, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat on July 30, 2022.
Colonel Michael Santos, Commander of the 603rd Infantry (Persuader) Brigade, said the four successive armed encounters resulted in the killing of Ian Dela Rama alias Cris, a commanding officer of the regional operations command of the Far South Mindanao Region. He was also a former secretary of Front 4A, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee from May 2018 to May 2019. Rama has an existing warrant of arrest with criminal case # 23022 for arson, filed at Branch 3 in Butuan City.
“Also neutralized in the gun fights were Valerio Lacumbo with aliases as Bitoy, Bobit, and Delfin with an existing warrant of arrest with criminal case # 568-2007 for robbery with violence against or intimidation of a person filed in a local court at Kidapawan City and Wilmer Dela Cruz alias Dodong/Grab, a member of Dabu-Dabu Platoon of the South Regional Command of Daguma, Far South Mindanao Region,” Col. Santos said.
Government troops were able to recover two (2) M16A1 Rifles, one (1) Garand Rifle, two (2) Caliber 45 Pistols, one (1) Hand Grenade, one (1) long and one (1) short magazine for the M16, three (3) magazines for the Caliber 45 pistol, ammunition, eleven (11) assorted keypad cell phones, five (5) pieces of flash drives, cash amounting to thirty thousand and thirty pesos (P3,030.00), assorted sim cards, assorted medicines, two (2) bandoliers, power bank, and other war materials.
Major General Roberto S Capulong, Acting Commander of the 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division and Joint Task Force Central, lauded the operating troops from various units of 6ID for another accomplishment and for their relentless push to clear more ground from communist terrorist group influence, especially in the lair of the communist terrorist group in Sultan Kudarat and the entire area of JTF Central.
“Your Kampilan Troopers will continue to pursue the remaining communist NPA terrorists in Central and South-Central Mindanao, and 6ID will always adhere to the tasks mandated to us, that is, to protect the people and secure the communities, especially in the area of Sultan Kudarat, to free them from insurgency brought by these lawless CTGs so that everyone will have a chance to live peacefully,” MGen. Capulong said.
The Division Commander condoled with the families of these 3 NPAs who died in a recent encounter with government troops, and he also called on other CTG rebels to surrender and return to their respective families while they still can. “We know that there are still wounded NPA members after the firefight.” You cannot forever hide. The masses are with us, and sooner or later, they will pinpoint your location. So, surrender now, “MGen. Capulong pleaded.”
With this, MGen. Capulong reiterated that government troops “do not rejoice in killing our fellow Filipinos; nasasaktan po ako kapag may namamatay na kapwa Filipino dahil lang sa maling ipinaglalaban.” For a couple of times, we have been calling on the remnants of the NPAs to lay down their arms and come back to the folds of the law to avoid circumstances like this, but some are not heeding it,” MGen. Capulong further said he underlined that with the neutralization of their leader, it is expected that the group will weaken. “To the troops, let us remain steadfast as we continue to gain ground in the campaign against terrorism and lawlessness in our area of operation.”
As of this date, 9 CTGs have been reported killed since January this year until now, and as many as 94 CTG members have returned to the government, while 68 firearms, 16 grenades, and 5 anti-personnel mines were surrendered and recovered in the same period.
MGen. Capulong disclosed that the National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA, created in April 1973. The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.