DAVAO -- An Army official said Monday that the P5.6-million bounty for the most wanted man in Davao Region, Leoncio Pitao, alias Kumander Parago of the New People's Army (NPA), will be given to a civilian who served as an informant for the Armed Forces.
Pitao was killed in an encounter with government troops Sunday, June 29.
Major General Eduardo Año, chief of the Army's 10th Infantry Division (ID), said the information provided by the civilian agent played a big role in the neutralization of Pitao, who headed the NPA's Pulang Bagani Command 1 operating in Southern Mindanao.
"Yung civilian na yun malaki ang contribution niya sa success sa operation. Hindi narin namin idi-divulge ang identity of the informant for security reasons. Makakatanggap siya ng P5.6 million na bounty ni Kumander Parago," Año told reporters Monday.
Pitao, 57, had multiple standing warrants of arrest for crimes he allegedly committed, including the massacre of members of religious group Peccavi on October 21, 1987; massacre of Zabala family on November 23, 1989; murder of Josefino Estaniel in May 2008; massacre of three Tulang siblings in 2009; and abduction and killing of Intoy Baquioin in October 2009, among others.
Año confirmed the man killed in an encounter in Paquibato District was indeed Pitao.
"We are 101 percent sure that he is Parago. Former rebels have also identified him based on the marks and dentures on his face," Año said.
"We are very sure he's the same person in the wanted list," he added.
Año said the operation was successful due to the combined efforts of 10th ID's Task Force Minions that was organized early December specifically tasked to capture Pitao dead or alive.
"Task Force Minions is composed of elite soldiers from different units," said Año, who personally supervised the group's operation.
After a 20-minute firefight between the NPA and the Army, the body of Pitao and a female rebel believed to be his medical aide were discovered by the military.
Recovered from the encounter site were two M16 rifles, three rifle grenades, and three backpacks.
Lieutenant General Aurelio B. Baladad, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the military units will still conduct pursuit operations to further weaken the remaining sub-groups of the rebels.
"We intend to pursue and destroy the remaining armed men in Paquibato. Less than 40 nalang siguro yan sila," Baladad said.
The death of Pitao, according to Año, will weaken the ranks of the remaining rebels in Davao Region.
"Bumaba na lang sila bago sila singilin ng batas (They better surrender)," Año said. (Sun.Star Davao)