DAVAO CITY – A PHP5.4 million bounty has been placed on the head of another high-ranking leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) who is tagged as the successor of slain Menandro Villanueva alias “Bok,” a military official said Tuesday.
Capt. Mark Anthony Tito, the Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, told the Philippine News Agency in an interview that anybody who can disclose the whereabouts of Eric Jun Casilao alias “Elian” or “Wally” will get the reward money being offered by the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“He is groomed by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA to replace Villanueva in the Komisyong Mindanao (KOMMID),” he said.
Villanueva, the longest-serving secretary of the NPA's Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) and concurrent secretary of the 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 an encounter with military forces on January 5 in Davao de Oro.
Casilao, on the other hand, is the current secretary of the SRMC, with criminal cases ranging from kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and two counts of murder.
“Based on latest reports, he (Casilao) is still in the hinterlands of Davao de Oro,” Tito said, adding that Casilao was with Villanueva during the encounter that led to the latter’s death.
In the One Davao virtual presser Monday, Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, commander of the 1001st Brigade, said they consider Casilao as a criminal and confirmed that he was being groomed to be Villanueva's successor.
“He is our next target and we won’t stop with our job here to secure peace in the communities,” he said.
Durante added that they will also provide posters with Casilao’s details to the communities for them to coordinate with the military troops should the NPA leader emerge in their area.
“Like what happened to ‘Bok’, we provided posters so that they can coordinate with us,” Durante said.
He added that the death of Villanueva caused a “domino effect” on the communist group and seen to result in a mass surrender among its members.
“They will find it hard to replace Menandro. It will have a leadership vacuum which will result in mass surrender,” Durante said.
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)