IN A NUTSHELL:
- Army spox says La Libertad town a stronghold of the rebels but not “as strong” as before
- CPP regional leadership ‘on the run’
- NPA command has not answered yet questions sent by DNX
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – An Army brigade official here said the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army is on the run with government forces hot on their heels as their mountain strongholds are slowly weakening.
Army Capt Kelvin Bayaban, civil military operations chief of the 303rd Infantry Brigade based in nearby Murcia town, told DNX.
Bayaban, who is CMO for a 5,000-strong fighting force, said the NPA unit of about 15 Red fighters was under the command of Medardo Sayosa alias Ka Meda who heads the NPA’s Central Negros 1 Guerilla Front that covers several towns and cities in the Occidental and Oriental sides.
Sayosa’s unit clashed with soldiers in the sub-village of Mabanga in Bagtic village, La Libertad town last 15 March while the rebels were “conducting recruitment and extortion” in the area, Bayaban added.
With only several weeks left before the NPA celebrates its founding anniversary on 29 March, the Army official added the rebels are “making their presence felt” as part of their “extortion activities” among sugarcane planters.
One rebel was killed during the encounter and firearms were recovered, a battlefield victory that Bayaban credits to multiple intelligence feeds from locals, Bayaban said.
This means that people in the hinterlands don’t trust the rebels anymore because of their criminal activities, the Army official also said.
The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command has yet to respond to questions sent by DNX to its Facebook account.