SEIZED. Government troops seize a sub-machine gun and rounds of live ammunition after an encounter with suspected New People’s Army rebels in Barangay Talalak, Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental on Friday (July 1, 2022). A rebel killed in the clash was identified as a resident of Sitio Halway, Barangay Nagbinlod of the same town. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army-11IB)

DUMAGUETE CITY – A suspected member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) was killed in an encounter with government troops in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental on Friday.

Lt. Col. Roderick Salayo, commanding officer of the 11th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army, on Saturday identified the suspect as Cristanto Estrabela Lagradilla, also known as Ka Locsin.

Lagradilla was an alleged member of the dismantled Southeast Front (SEF) of the Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor.

A former rebel said Lagradilla hails from Sitio Halway in Barangay Nagbinlod of the same town where he was killed.

Troops from the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police encountered Lagradilla and four others at Sitio Tamusi in Barangay Talalak.

Government troops also seized a firearm, rounds of live ammunition, and two handheld radios at the site of the encounter.

“Another communist NPA terrorist got killed because of their leaders who are eager to recover their former members in order to increase their armed elements,” Salayo said in a statement.

Salayo said former rebels who have surrendered to authorities recently confirmed reports that SEF leaders are luring back members of dismantled guerilla fronts.

“We, the government forces, will never allow their recovery efforts and injustices of destroying the lives of their recruits,” Salayo said.

Lagradilla’s remains were taken to a funeral parlor in Bayawan City while his family is making arrangements for his wake in Sitio Tula-tulahan, Barangay Nagbinlod.

The local government unit of Sta. Catalina will give assistance to the family of the deceased and has paid for the coffin while the 11IB shouldered embalming expenses.

"Again, we are calling on the remnants of the NPA to lay down your arms and go back to the government so that this will never happen again. Armed struggle is not the solution to your hope for peace and progress. Instead, it's giving you false hopes and miseries in life,” said Brig. Gen. Leonardo Peña, commander of the 302nd Brigade based in Tanjay City.

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 National Democratic Front was also formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)