BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Camp Gerona has confirmed early today, 11 October 2022, the death of elusive rebel leader Romeo Nanta alias Ka Juanito Magbanua, operations chief of the New People’s Army in Negros island and spokesman of a main guerrilla front here after a firefight with soldiers yesterday, the latest in a series of skirmishes in the uplands of Himamaylan City in the south here.
“His death would clearly serve as a reminder that no one can escape the long arm of the law,” Brigadier General Innocencio Pasaporte, commander of the Army’s 303rd Brigade, was quoted as saying in a news release from Murcia town where the Brigade is based.
Army Captain Mervin Rosal said the body of Nanta was found by troopers of the 94th Battalion after a clash with an estimated 10 rebels in the mountain village of Carabalan around 5:25pm yesterday, 10 October 2022.
A gunbattle lasted for 10 minutes between the opposing forces after which the rebels reportedly fled leaving behind the body that was later identified by the Local police to be that of Nanta who also goes by his underground names Juaning and Jack.
The Army said he is the current commanding officer of the Regional Operational Command of the Komiteng Rehiyon – Negros and the spokesperson of the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command.
Pasaporte praised the “relentless efforts” of the 94th Brigade, based in Guihulngan City, Oriental Negros, led by Lieutenant Colonel Van Donald Almonte, that had been hunting down the rebels since the first firefight on 6 October 2022 in the mountain community of Sig-ang, one of the sub villages of Carabalan.
Camp Gerona added “the armed NPA rebels… splintered into small groups in the area,” triggering at least five running gunbattles, the fifth of which was yesterday that led to Nanta’s death.
Nanta, the release pointed out, “was previously arrested in 2011 for criminal cases such as murder, frustrated murder, robbery and damaged to properties” and “is also directly and indirectly responsible to the death of soldiers, policemen, CAFGU’s and innocent civilians.”
“He is also responsible in the ambush of PNP personnel in Binalbagan early this year. He was bailed out by front organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF in Negros and after jumping bail; he returned to the terrorist movement and was involved again in various terroristic atrocities.”
Pasaporte said Nanta’s “death would clearly serve as a reminder that no one can escape the long arm of the law. It would also serve as justice to innocent civilians tagged as informants to justify their brand of justice and contribute to the collapse of NPA terrorists in Negros Island. Hopefully, it would lead to the realization of other members of the NPAs that their only option is to return to the fold of law.”