A COMMANDER of communist rebels was reportedly killed in a 30-minute gunfight with government troops in the mountains of Bukidnon in Northern Mindanao on Saturday, October 30, 2021.

The Philippine Army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID) said in a press statement that Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) leader Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos was killed along with a fellow rebel in the mountainous Sitio Gabunan, Barangay Dumalaguing, Impasugong.

Madlos also served as the spokesperson of the National Operations Command (NOC) and National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao.

The other fatality was identified by Major General Romeo Brawner Jr., 4ID commander, as Eighel dela Peña (alias Pika/Maui), a medic of NOC.

Before the reported gunfight happened, the 4ID's 403rd Infantry Brigade had launched its operations at 12:30 a.m. Saturday, after receiving an information from residents of Gabunan about armed men believed to be members of the NOC of the CPP-NPA Komiteng Mindanao, Regional Operations Command, and Guerilla Front 89 of the North Central Mindanao Regional Command, according to the 4ID's presser quoted in the Philippine News Agency's report.

The armed men were reportedly indoctrinating communism philosophies to the residents of the mountain barangay.

Around 11:30 a.m., government forces launched their final assault and encountered more or less 30 rebels who are labeled by the national government as CPP-NPA terrorists or CNTs.

The ground troops also received air support as the CNTs' positions were fortified with land mines, according to Brigadier General Ferdinand Barandon, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade.

Thirty minutes later, the Philippine Army troopers cleared the area. They then discovered two bodies, one was later identified as that of Madlos. The 4ID did not mention in its news release how the rebel leader was identified.

Also found in the area were an M14 rifle, a KG9 rifle, ammunition of different calibers and other personal items.

According to Brawner, Madlos was the most wanted NPA commander as he had been facing multiple criminal cases -- robbery with homicide, damage to properties, murder and double frustrated murder. Madlos' wife, Myrna "Maria Malaya" Sularte, is the secretary of Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Brawner praised the government forces for neutralizing two NPA rebels.

READ: Military commends neutralization of NPA top leader

The military official has urged NPA rebels to surrender and avail themselves of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integrated Program or E-Clip, a government program designed to help former communist rebels restore their allegiance to the republic and give access to medical, legal and livelihood aid.

The CPP-NPA has not yet issued a statement about the death of Madlos and dela Peña.

The NPA is an armed wing of the CPP. It was founded on March 29, 1969 by CPP founder Jose Maria Sison and Hukbalahap, shorthand for the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon, a communist guerilla movement formed by Central Luzon farmers that originally fought the Japanese Imperial forces and later waged a rebellion against the post-World War 2 Philippine government.

The United States government has designated the NPA as a terrorist group.

READ: Police units on heightened alert after NPA leader’s death

CPP states in its constitution and program that the NPA is its “main weapon in the seizure and consolidation of political power. It welds the basic alliance of the working class and the peasantry. In the countryside, it shall create the conditions for establishing the people’s democratic state by waging armed struggle, facilitating agrarian revolution and helping build organs of political power and revolutionary mass organizations.”

The NPA operates in the Philippine countryside, employing a Maoist military strategy -- maintaining the population’s support and luring the enemy (government forces) to the countryside where the people would defeat them through guerilla and mobile warfare tactics.

On March 29, 2021, former communist rebels held a rally in Cebu City denouncing the atrocities committed by the NPA. (KAL)