FIVE communist New People's Army (NPA) terrorists, including a ranking leader, were killed as firefight ensued during a law enforcement operation in South Cotabato, military officials said Wednesday, December 2.
Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the firefight broke out around 5 a.m. Wednesday in Sitio Kebang in Ned village, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
Vinluan identified the slain NPA ranking leader as Romeo Libron, who carries the aliases of Ka Frank and Ka Melvin, the commander of the Regional Ordnance-Regional Operations Command (ROC) of the NPA's Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).
Vinluan said the slain followers of Libron include his wife, Merly and three others who were later identified Rogelio Magsaya alias Sarge, a certain Macoy, and a certain Megan.
Vinluan said the firefight ensued as Libron and his followers "pulled their guns and fired," prompting the arriving joint forces of the Army's 5th Special Forces Battalion and 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company to return fire.
"Based on the report from the ground, Libron's group was tagged in recent bombings of buses, construction equipment, and business establishments in central Mindanao whose owners refused to shell out 'protection money' on a periodic basis," Vinluan said.
The Westmincom chief said that Libron is also wanted for heinous offenses, including multiple murder, extortion and arson.
The troops recovered from the hideout of Libron one Carbine rifle, one M-16 Armalite rifle, one caliber .45 pistol, one 9-millimeter Glock 19 pistol, two improvised explosive devices (IED), IED components, and propaganda materials, according to Brigadier General Roy Galido, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade.
Galido said the recovered firearms were turned over to the Lake Sebu Municipal Police Station for proper disposition.
Major General Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Central, lauded the operating troops for their accomplishment.
Uy directed the troops of the 5th Special Forces Battalion to heighten security against possible retaliation of the NPA.
"We continue to beef up our military and joint operations to let peace and progress reign in central Mindanao," Uy added. (SunStar Zamboanga)