BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — His allies insist be was murdered while government soldiers say his death was a result of a legitimate encounter.
But one thing is sure, the death of the rebel leader last 10 October 2022 netted the military is highest profile rebel death in Negros Occidental
Romeo Nanta aka Ka Juanito Magbanua was found dead after a series of skirmishes with the government troopers in the upland areas of Himamaylan City.
Nanta was the operations chief of the New People’s Army in Negros Island and was the spokesperson of the main guerilla front 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.
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.
Nanta, an earlier press release from the military, had been previously arrested in 2011 for criminal cases such as murder, frustrated murder, robbery and damage to properties and had been “also directly and indirectly responsible to the death of soldiers, policemen, CAFGU’s and innocent civilians.”
Nanta, the release said, was also responsible for the ambush of police personnel in Binalbagan early this year.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines archive also listed the names of Nanta, apart from Juanito Magbanua, as Jack Nanta, Juaning, Islao and Kulas.
Records show that he was arrested last 7 November 2011, at village (barangay) Zone 2, Cadiz City for rebellion, robbery-in-band, attempted and frustrated murder which were issued by three different courts in Negros Occidental.
Nanta was involved in other incidents and activities including the raid and disarming of the 1st Provincial Mobile Group detachment at villlage (barangay) Malasibog, Escalante on March 19, 2006; harassment of Villegas Detachment at Barangay Villegas, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental on April 2006; arson at the Victorias Milling Company and Central Lopez transloading station at Barangay San Jose, Toboso on March 2008; and the burning of the Globe Telecom cell site in Purok Mabuhay, village (barangay) Poblacion, in Toboso, Negros Occidental.
He was also involved in the attack of La Libertad Police Station in Negros Oriental in 2008; raid of ECJ farm at Barangay Suay, Himamaylan on February 2009; raid of Polopangyan detachment located in Barnagay Bug-ang, Toboso on 10 August 2022 and for disarming and sabotage of VMC pump station in Barangay 20, Victorias City last October 2010.