The Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) Lt. Gen. Greg T. Almerol describes the current situation of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao as “running like a headless monster,” as Pedro Codaste alias Gonyong/Serv, the 2nd top-ranking NPA Commander in Mindanao, falls to combined military units following an encounter on January 21, 2022 in Brgy. Kalabugao, Impasugong, Bukidnon.
In response to reliable information from concerned citizens about the presence of an armed group, combined forces of the 4th Infantry Division’s (4ID) 402nd Brigade, 16th Infantry Battalion, Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and intel units launched an operation in the said area in response to EastMinCom’s directive to intensify military offensives against the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG).
A 30-minute gunfight between troops and an estimated 15 fully equipped CTG resulted in the deaths of Codaste and a particular alias Zandro.
At the encounter site, they also discovered two firearms consisting of an AK47 rifle, a Caliber.45 pistol, an Anti-Personnel Mine (APM), three backpacks containing personal items, and subversive materials.
Following the deaths of Antonio Cabanatan, Jorge Madlos, and Menandro Villanueva, Codaste was named Acting Chairman of the NPA’s Komisyun Mindanao (KOMMID).
He was also a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) Central Committee, National Democratic Front (NDF) Consultant, Deputy Secretary KOMMID, former Secretary of Guerilla Front 4A (GF4A) in Agusan del Sur during the early ’90s, and later became Secretary of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee in 2009.
According to Lt. Gen. Almerol, Codaste’s death brings justice to the victims of his heinous crimes in Mindanao. Since August 2018, he got numerous arrest warrants from the Regional Trial Court, 10th Judicial Region of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, for murder, double frustrated murder, and attempted murder.
More NPA personalities will surrender to the army, as happened after the deaths of Ka Oris and Ka Bok, two of the top-ranking NPA leaders in Mindanao, according to the EastMinCom Commander, since they cannot survive in the hands of novice leaders.
“We are seeing a snowball of surrender in the coming days with the successful neutralization of another CTG head. This is possible as the operational balance of the CTG continues to crumble while the morale of their followers depletes after a series of engagements with our troops,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Almerol urged the surviving CTG members to surrender peacefully rather than follow in the footsteps of their assassinated leaders.
“May you follow the steps of your former comrades who are now living a peaceful and comfortable life under the care of the government as beneficiaries of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). All you need to do is make that decisive action to peacefully surrender and we will ensure your safety and protection,” Lt. Gen. Almerol said.
“We abhor the idea of bloodshed and we do not want to see another rebel dying for the sake of a failed ideology. Surrender now instead of wasting your lives,” he added.
Lt. Gen. Almerol also praised the residents of the towns for sharing information with the military in a proactive manner, which he said had been essential in the success of its operations in Eastern Mindanao.
He also praised the troops of 4ID, the PNP, and intelligence units for successfully neutralizing another most wanted NPA leader in Eastern Mindanao.
“Your exemplary job is a true source of inspiration for all Filipino people who strive to make the country better in pursuit of peace and development. Keep up the good work,” the EastMinCom Commander said.