A HIGH-RANKING leader of New People's Army (NPA) and a member were killed during an encounter between the military and the Communist New People's Army Terrorist (CNT) in Barangay Kalabugao, Impasug-ong in Bukidnon on January 21, 2022.

The 16th Infantry Battalion identified the fatalities as Pedro Codaste alias Gonyong/Serv, the NPA's number two commander in Mindanao being the Deputy Secretary of Komisyon Mindanao (Kommid), and alias Zandro, a CNT member.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Neil Armstrong Batayola, commanding officer of 16IB, they responded to the complaint of concerned citizens regarding an armed group conducting astrocities in the area.

The two rebels were killed during a 30-minute encounter in the vicinity of Barangay Kalabugao.

Their body were left behind by the retreating comrades, composed of 15 rebels.

The government troops recovered one AK47 Rifle and one caliber 45 pistol.

"Codaste was considered as the acting Kommid chairman after the death of Cabanatan alias Kuba, Madlos alias Ka Oris and Villanueva alias Ka Bok. He is a member of CPP’s Central Committee and Consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF)," Brigadier General Oliver Vesliño, acting commander of 4th Infantry Division.

"A former secretary of Guerilla Front 4A (GF4A) in Agusan del Sur during the early '90s then later became secretary of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee in 2009. He was elected to the Central Committee during the CPP 2nd Congress in 2016," he added.

According to the army report, Codaste is one of the most wanted fugitive, facing multiple cases with warrants of arrest for crime of murder, double frustrated murder and attempted murder.

"We have once again delivered justice for our people. While we extend our sympathies to the families and friends of those killed, Codaste’s death is a tangible reminder that injustices that brought sufferings and numerous deaths will forever haunt us. A clearer manifestation of the people in rejecting the CPP-NPA-NDF," Vesliño said.

"Remaining leaders and members still have the chance to avoid the same fate by availing the E-CLIP of the government and peacefully return to their families," he added.