RECOVERED FIREARMS. Troopers from the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade present the various high-powered firearms after an encounter with the New People's Army (NPA) on Sunday (March 27, 2022) in Barangay Tupaz Maragusan, Davao de Oro. The skirmish also resulted in the death of three NPA members from the Regional Operations Command, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee. (PNA photo by Che Palicte)

MACO, Davao de Oro – Three New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed in an encounter with government forces in Barangay Tupaz Maragusan, Davao de Oro, the military here reported Monday.

In a press briefing, the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade 1001(Bde) reported that while on focused military operations, troopers figured in an armed encounter Sunday with the combatants of the NPA's Regional Operations Command (ROC), Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).

Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, the 1001Bde commander, identified the slain NPA fighters as Ezequil Cortez Daguman alias Rey/Ry, member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Central Committee and deputy secretary of ROC, SMRC; Ruel Baylon alias James; and Quirino Remegio alias Jelly/Manoy.

After the skirmish, Durante said the troops also recovered seven high-powered firearms, an improvised explosive device, various types of ammunition, medical paraphernalia, and personal belongings.

"The death of Daguman is a big blow not only to SMRC but the CPP as a whole. He is one of the special operators of SMRC and is responsible for the extortion activities among businessmen and politicians," Durante said.

Daguman has existing arrest warrants for kidnapping, serious illegal detention, double murder, robbery with violence, and murder, the military official added.

"This is another significant accomplishment in the implementation and operationalization of President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order (EO) 70. It is a manifestation that when we work together, we will be successful," Durante said.

EO 70 pursues institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach for collective participation and action in harmonizing government development efforts and services to support, facilitate and pursue the country's peace agenda in ending communist insurgency in the countryside.  

Durante called on other NPA members to lay down their arms and avail the benefits of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) – a government program to aid surrenderers as they reintegrate into mainstream society.

"We are glad that we were able to reduce the NPA's strength and firearms, while we also feel sad considering that lives are again lost, caused by NPA deception and lies," he said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, 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)