MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) congratulated the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for neutralizing Mindanao’s most wanted Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) leader Menandro ‘Bok’ Villanueva, the so-called “Karl Marx of the NPA” in an encounter in Barangay Libudon, Mabini, Davao de Oro on January 5.
“Masasabi talaga nating malaking isda itong nabingwit ng AFP sapagkat (We can really say that the AFP caught a big fish because) Villanueva or Bok is the third in line in the CPP hierarchy next to Joma Sison and Julius Giron,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año in a news release on Friday.
“Congratulations to the AFP for an excellent job. Finally, you have closed the book of Villanueva. Isa na naman itong tagumpay sa ating paghahangad ng tunay na kapayapaan para sa ating bansa (This is another victory in our prusuit of genuine peace),” he added.
Villanueva is the Secretary of the 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).
Año said the neutralization of Villanueva is a significant victory in the government’s drive to end communist terrorism in the country for he is a known figure that has been wanted by the government for many years. He said that achievement brings the country one step closer to its goal to end local armed conflict and free communities that have been victimized by the terrorist group.
“Salamat sa ating AFP sapagkat bagaman malaki ang kinakaharap natin sa ating laban sa Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) ay patuloy silang naglilingkod para naman itaguyod ang laban para sa kapayapaan ng ating bansa (We thank the AFP because despite the battle against Covid-19 that we are facing, they continue to serve and pursue the fight towards peace in our country),” he added.
The AFP’s 1001st Brigade under Brig. Gen. Jesus P Durante III, who was still in Focused Military Operations (FMO) during the incident, deployed its troops to verify a report from a concerned citizen about the presence of NPA members disrupting the peace in Barangay Libudon.
The AFP’s quick deployment of troops resulted in an armed encounter with the NPA’s Regional Headquarters, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (RHQ-SMRC) and led to the demise of Villanueva who was hit in several parts of his body.
The DILG Chief said that Villanueva’s body was left by his fleeing comrades together with some of their other personal belongings and an AK-47 assault rifle.
Meanwhile, Durante said in a statement that the victory was due to the troops’ prompt and deliberate actions.
“Villanueva’s 51-year reign of terror is finally over. His numerous victims were finally given justice. Alias Bok has several warrants of arrests to include multiple murder, double frustrated murder, arson, robbery with intimidation, rebellion, among others,” said Durante.
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 also supervised the operations of the CPP-NPA in the whole of Mindanao and directly controlled the operations of the NPA as head of its National Operations Command. (PR)