REBEL LEADER KILLED. Leonido Nabong, a ranking leader of the New People's Army, was killed in an encounter with government troops in Barangay ZNAC, Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte on Friday (Nov. 13, 2020). He had standing warrants of arrest for multiple murder charges, damage to government property, and rebellion. (Photo courtesy of the 44th Infantry Battalion)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A high-ranking leader of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), with a PHP6.1-million bounty on his head, was killed in a firefight with government troops in the hinterlands of Zamboanga del Norte, military officials said Saturday.

 Leonido Nabong, first deputy secretary of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee, was killed in a 45-minute clash that ensued after troops on a combat operation in Barangay ZNAC (Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College) in Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte encountered 10 fully armed rebels of the WMRPC’s Guerrilla Front Flex A on Friday, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., said.

Vinluan said the troops of the 44th Infantry Battalion (IB) and police officers also recovered six high-powered firearms from the clash site.

He said the rest of the rebels scampered in different directions, leaving Nabong behind.

“Coco or Baste, as we commonly know him (Nabong), was one of the remaining pillars, the oldest and the most hardcore personality of the WMRPC," said Lt. Col. Don Templonuevo, 44IB commander.

“The troops found Coco abandoned by his comrades and tried to revive him but unfortunately, he passed away.”

Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, 102d Infantry Brigade commander, said Nabong had standing warrants of arrest for multiple murder charges, damage to government property, and rebellion.

“For the past months, our troops on the ground have been pursuing the remaining elements of the Guerrilla Front Feliciano ‘A’ and will continue to hunt down the remaining CTGs (communist terrorist groups) in Western Mindanao,” Nicolas said.

“However, we will keep our doors open for those who still wish a second chance to be with their families and return to the mainstream society.”

Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, 1st Infantry Division commander, said the military would continue to conduct focused operations and maximize intelligence monitoring to prevent the "menaces of society to thrive in the communities in the command’s area of operation."

“Let us continue to work together to win over any threat that hinders peace and progress in the communities,” Vinluan said. (PNA)