Army, LGU: Davao de Oro now free of communist insurgents

The provincial government of Davao de Oro (formerly Compostela Valley) and the Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID) have declared the province as insurgency-free following the dismantling of all the guerrilla fronts of the New People’s Army.

Capt. Mark Anthony Tito, 10th ID spokesman, said the declaration was jointly made on Wednesday afternoon by provincial and military officials as a result of the dismantling of all the eight rebel fronts that previously operated in Davao de Oro.

Tito said guerrilla front 27 (GF 27) was dismantled in 2018 and the GFs 15 and 34 in 2019. On the other hand, GF 33 was dismantled in 2020, followed by the GF North in 2021.

For this year, GFs 3 and 2, which is one of the oldest guerilla fronts in Mindanao, and the sub-regional guerilla unit (SRGU) were also dismantled.

Aside from the GFs, Tito said the 10th ID also neutralized Menandro Villanueva alias Bok, the highest-ranking rebel leader in Mindanao, while Maximo Catarta, secretary of the GF 3, and Rosefel Movera, secretary of GF 2, have yielded to the government.

The 10th ID said that from 2016 up to 2022, the division initiated 159 armed encounters with the NPA, which resulted in the killing of 42 rebels, surrender of 619 others and the capture of 103.

The division and its units also recovered 776 firearms and recorded the surrender of more than 7,000 rebel supporters and followers.

Major Gen. Nolasco Mempin, 10th ID commander, attributed the feat to military commanders on the ground, provincial officials and the operation of the government’s counter insurgency task force.

Active and retired military officials, including National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., attended the declaration event.

In San Jose, Nueva Ecija, a reported expert bomb maker of the NPA surrendered to the 84th Infantry Battalion (IB), also on Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Enrico Gil Ileto, 84th IB commander, said the rebel identified through his alias as “Ka Wing,” 34, is a bomb expert of the NPA’s former unit Larangang Gerilya sa Patag 1 that was dismantled in 2019.

Ileto said the rebel, who operated in Nueva Ecija for five years, turned over two homemade bombs, detonating cord and a 500 ml bottle containing about 125 ml of phosphorus black powder and two improvised explosive devices (anti-tank).

“With his surrender, the NPA lost the opportunity to possibly use his skills in bomb making and manufacture bombs that will be used against the government,” Ileto said.

Major Gen. Andrew Costelo, 7th Infantry Division commander, commended Ileto and his men over the surrender.