5 suspected Philippine communist rebels killed in clashes with military

The government hopes to finally end one of Asia's longest-running armed conflicts.
BenarNews staff
5 suspected Philippine communist rebels killed in clashes with military This photo shows guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA) marching in the Sierra Madre mountain range, located east of Manila, July 30, 2017.
Noel Celis/AFP

Two “high-value targets” were among five suspected communist guerrillas killed in what the military described as separate clashes with government troops in the central and southern Philippines this week, officials said Thursday.

The Philippine army identified the two slain leaders as Zaldy Galamiton (also known as Shaggy and Poldo) and Jhonjhon Ayuma Ramos (also known as Erbing). 

Galamiton was secretary of the Sub-Regional Committee 1 of the New People’s Army (NPA) – the military wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – and Ramos was commanding officer of the rebel group’s Sub-Regional Sentro De Gravida (SRSDG) Eagles, according to the military.

The two were killed in a clash with troops from the 29th Infantry Battalion near Gingoog City in southern Misamis Oriental province on Tuesday, the military said.

“The two fatalities were high-value individuals who we have been tracking for months,” said Lt. Col. Warren Daroy, head of the 16th Infantry Battalion under the 402nd Infantry Brigade.

“They were responsible for directing atrocities and criminal activities in Misamis Oriental and parts of Agusan Norte.”

Marco Valbuena, spokesman for the communist party, did not immediately respond to a BenarNews request for comment. 

The NPA and CPP have been waging a rebellion against Manila since 1969, one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

Military troops were responding to information provided by residents about the presence of the rebels who were said to be “attempting to regain their lost mass base through recruitment and extortion activities,” Daroy said. 

A brief firefight followed, leading to the recovery of two M16 rifles, bandoliers, magazines, ammunition and personal belongings of the insurgents, Daroy said. Circumstances around what set off the firefight remained unclear.

A third NPA rebel, Berto Dayong, died in a gunfight with troops from the 29th Infantry Battalion on Monday, according to the military.

And in other “clashes,” two other rebels were killed in shootouts in Negros Occidental on Tuesday and Wednesday, said Lt. Col. Isagani Galorio, a spokesperson of the Visayas Command (Viscom).

Galorio said one of the encounters, between troops from the 79th Infantry Battalion and remnants from the NPA’s Northern Negros Front, occurred in Cambayobo village in Calatrava town on Wednesday.

Regional army chief Lt. Gen. Fernando Reyeg said the successful operations were a “clear manifestation of our firm disposition to never allow the [CPP-NPA] to regain their foothold in the region and neutralize the few remaining members of the terrorist group.”

“With a sense of urgency, we are determined to end the local communist armed conflict [at] the soonest possible time,” Reyeg said.

PH-communist-insurgency 2.jpg
Members and supporters of the communist party of the Philippines’ armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA) with their faces covered, raise clenched fists during a protest at the peace arch near Malacañang Palace in Manila, March 31, 2017. [Ted Aljibe/AFP]

The government said the CPP-NPA force is now down to just 1,500 in about 14 guerrilla fronts, mostly in the Philippine countryside. 

The communist rebels’ strength peaked at 25,000 fighters during the dictatorship of Ferdinand E. Marcos in the 1980s, but successive military victories in the field and an aging leadership had led to a significantly weakened rebel force.

Last year, the administration of the late dictator’s son, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., agreed to resume peace talks with the communist rebels following secret talks in Oslo brokered by Norway.

The younger Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, pulled out of peace negotiations with the communist rebels in 2017 after accusing them of attacking government forces while negotiating for peace.

Froilan Gallardo and Roel Pareno contributed to this report from Cagayan de Oro city, southern Philippines


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