BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – By the time Rogelio Posadas faced death in battle, on a grassy spot in the mountain community of Cabite in Binalbagan town, he had taken a final journey of around six kilometers from Cansalongon village in Isabela town to Barangay Santol in Binalbagan.
On foot. With an untreated wound sustained months ago.
Fleeing with his retinue of armed escorts in the early morning darkness from Cansalongon in Isabela where they were supposed to attack a paramilitary outpost according to the Army, Putin could have thought Binalbagan town was safe refuge.
After all, it was the same town where he and his guerrillas ambushed a police unit on the eve of Valentine’s Day, last year.
It was not known if the soldiers who chased them that night were outfitted with night vision googles.
What is known, as disclosed by the Army, is the fact that it took only less than two hours – from around 2am of the first clash to past 3am for the third clash – in the final chase from Isabela to Binalbagan, for rifle units of the 94th Battalion to corner the guerrilla force that was supposed to protect Posadas as the secretary or the “leading cadre” of the Communist Party heading the unified regional committee for Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor islands
Underground sources, one a former regional committee head in the Visayas, told DNX Posadas was a seminarian in Cebu province when he was recruited by Party urban operatives.
Originally from Mindanao, Putin rose through the Party ranks and became deputy secretary in the 90s of the Church sector bureau or the “CHS” in Party parlance in Cebu island.
The CHS Bureau, composed of either priests, nuns and laymen who are active Communist Party members, is responsible for the recruitment, indoctrination, and collection of material, financial or human support for the armed struggle in the countryside.
It is also the “direct HO” or direct higher organ of the cell or Party collective that leads the Christians for National Liberation (CNL), an underground formation of so-called national democrats or supporters of the armed revolution who are not yet Party members.
Army 94th Battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Van Donald Almonte, told DNX the death of Posadas involved months of following him, an operation directed by 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, Brigadier General Orlando Edralin.
Almonte also said the thinning of the SGYG, also considered the NPA’s Regional Strike Force, started on 4 and 5 February 2023 when their combat units clashed with an NPA band in the mountain village of Oringao in Kabankalan City.
That clash left three suspected rebels dead – two in their 40s and one in his 70s – and the seizure of an M14 battle rifle.
Information from people in the area and other sources of the military indicated that Putin was part of the NPA unit and was wounded in the back after being hit by a bullet’s splinter.
Almonte said a check on Posadas’ body revealed a still unhealed wound on his back, an indication that the rebel leader was not brought to a medical facility for treatment.
Ka Miko, a former Communist cadre also said this points to the strong possibility that the rebels have a shallow or absent urban support infrastructure that, in the past, used to include houses of allies or members classified into bahay imbakan (storage areas of weapons and illegal documents), bahay pulongan (meeting houses), and bahay gamutan (healing houses).
The cadre, a former member of the CPP’s Regional Urban/White Area Committee, said some bahay gamutan are in parishes of the Roman Catholic Church where the priests are either Communists or allies.
The debacle for Posadas deepened last March when another clash in Carabalan village in Himamaylan City left four rebels dead and the seizure of four high powered rifles – two M16s and two AK47 – weapons usually issued to veterans and fighters of the regional strike forces.
By the time the 303rd mobilized its three maneuver battalions, the 62nd, the 94th, and the 79th in what appeared like a final push last week in three rebel fronts, Rogelio Posadas alias Ka Putin, secretary of the Communist Party, only had a handful of fighters to protect him, less powerful weapons, and a narrow corridor through which to escape.
He tried to escape in the night.
He was dead by daybreak.