DAVAO ORIENTAL – A high-ranking officer of the Communist New People’s Army was killed in a recent clash between the military and the communist-terrorist group.
Prince Wendel Olofernes aka “Do/Edoy”, who was identified as the Secretary of the NPA’s weakened Guerilla Front 18, was killed in an encounter between government troops and some 20 armed members of NPA in the morning of July 16, 2020, Thursday, at Sitio Lower Maragdao, Barangay Maragatas, Lupon, Davao Oriental.
According to an official report from the 28th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, the government troopers responded to reports coming from the villagers who were alarmed by the presence of armed men in their far-flung community. Residents here, who have previously voiced out their sentiments against the atrocities of the NPA on innocent civilians, say they do not want the presence of the NPA in their community.
Recovered in the encounter site were four high explosives consisting of 40mm ammunitions and one backpack containing personal belongings.
Airlifted on a military helicopter of the Philippine Airforce’s Tactical Operations Group (TOG) 11, the body of the slain NPA officer was returned by the government troops to his family in Barangay Magnaga, Municipality of Pantukan, Davao de Oro on Friday, July 17.
Pantukan Mayor Roberto Yugo, through his representative Punong Barangay Andy Dultra, condoled with the family and shouldered the expenses for the funeral while the barangay provided food and cash assistance.
Aside from the death count, the government troops have also captured an NPA member identified as Godofredo Quesada Galo alias “Dagsa”. Galo, according to the 28th IB, was brought to the Lupon Municipal Police Station for appropriate filing of charges.
28th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Alexander Banatao commended his troops’ efforts and untiring sacrifices in relentlessly defending the communities from the NPA’s terror.
“Our sincere condolences to the bereaved family. May this unfortunate event serve as a lesson to the remaining NPA members. We sincerely ask the help of everyone in the community to help us assist our deceived fellow brothers by encouraging them to return to the folds of law. Let us not wait for another loss, the right time is now. For those who wish to surrender, there is nothing to worry about because the government is ever ready to help you start a peaceful beginning,” says Lt. Col. Banatao.
He called on to the remaining NPA members to surrender to the government and avail of its many programs for former rebels that offers them a chance to start over with their lives together with their families.
The government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for former rebels has been changing many former rebels’ lives for the better. Aside from the cash grants, former rebels receive scores of other benefits such as free skills training, livelihood opportunities, free education, and free housing, among many others.
“The Philippine government is more than willing to accept and assist the few remaining NPA members who wish to help themselves by going back to the mainstream society living normal and peaceful lives,” says Lt. Col. Banatao.
He further encouraged the relatives of active NPA members who are still inside the Communist movement to help convince their loved ones to turn their backs on the armed struggle.
While the 28 IB strongly condemned the atrocious acts of the NPA, especially now in the time of the coronavirus pandemic, which adds up to the burdens of the civilians, it also vowed to remain steadfast in its fight against terrorism and anything that is a threat to peace.
Meanwhile, in a series of convergence meetings in the province, the Provincial Government-led team consisting of various provincial government offices and national government agencies is set to deliver services and projects in Barangay Maragatas which is long known to be a conflict-affected area.
This effort is part of the Provincial Government’s aim in pushing the government’s Executive Order 70 or the Whole of the Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. (Report and Photos courtesy of 28th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)