DAVAO CITY – The most wanted commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao was killed by government troops in an encounter at Barangay Libudon, Mabini, Davao de Oro on Wednesday evening (January 5), the 10th Infantry Division (10ID) said in a statement.
Menandro Villanueva alias "Bok," the longest-serving secretary of the NPA's Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) and currently the secretary of Komisyong Mindanao (KOMMID), commanding officer of the NPA’s National Operations Command (NOC), and member of the POLITBURO of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), was killed in the encounter.
In December last year, the Department of National Defense (DND) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) offered a PHP5.6-million cash reward to any individual who could provide information that would lead to Villanueva's arrest.
The 10ID added that a concerned citizen reported the presence of the NPA disrupting peace in the area.
Troops from the 1001st Brigade immediately responded to verify the report which resulted in an armed engagement with the NPA Regional Headquarters-SMRC where alias Bok was co-located.
“Alias Bok was hit in several parts of his body resulting in his death. Troops are still conducting pursuit operations to the fleeing members of the NPA,” the 10ID added.
Villanueva is considered as one of the recognized high leaders of the CPP hiding in the strongholds of its armed wing, the NPA.
Villanueva is one of the founding members of the NPA in Mindanao during the 1970s together with Edgar Jopson.
During his student years in Ateneo de Manila, he was an activist under the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and went underground when Martial Law was declared.
He supervised the operations of the CPP-NPA in the whole of Mindanao and directly controlled the operations of the communist group as head of the NOC.
Alias Bok has several warrants of arrests for multiple murder, double frustrated murder, arson, robbery with intimidation, and rebellion, among others.
Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, commander of the 1001st Brigade, lauded the troops’ prompt and deliberate actions which further contributed to the peace efforts of the whole Davao Region.
“The 51-year reign of terror of Menandro Villanueva is finally over. His victims were finally given justice,” he added.
He further renewed his call to the fleeing NPAs to surrender and avail of the government's program to achieve real peace.
"Surrender now while you still can. Don't wait to suffer the same fate as Menandro Villanueva. The government is always willing to accept you if you decide to return to the folds of the law." Durante added.
Meanwhile, MGen Ernesto Torres Jr., commander of the 10ID, thanked the troops for their outstanding performance in pursuing the top leadership of the SMRC and KOMMID.
“This is a clear manifestation that the CPP-NPA in the whole Mindanao is losing ground. Mindanao's most wanted terrorist is now finally neutralized by your Agila Troopers. They have nowhere to hide because the masses are already fed up with the abuses and extortion they perpetrated for more than five decades,” he said.
Torres added that the death of Villanueva was an indication that the end of the communist insurgency in Mindanao is already within reach.
Last December 24, troops of the 1001st Brigade also figured in an armed engagement with the same group that resulted in the death of Anna Sandra Reyes alias Kaye, the secretary of Regional White Area Committee (RWAC), SMRC.
Torres said the death of the two top personalities of the Central Committee of the CPP-NPA was a colossal blow that makes its downfall irreversible.
“10ID is still in pursuit against known NPA personalities namely Eric Casilao alias Wally/Elian and his party, wife May Casilao alias Gab, both high ranking members of SMRC,” he added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)