FALLEN NPA LEADER. Men carry the casket of a New People's Army regional commander killed in a clash in San Jose de Buan, Samar in this Aug. 2, 2022 photo. The Philippine Army on Monday (Aug. 8, 2022) said the recent deaths of a commanding officer of the New People’s Army in Eastern Visayas and his staff in clash with government forces in Samar is a big loss to the communist terrorist group in the region. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army 87th Infantry Battalion)

TACLOBAN CITY – The recent deaths of a commanding officer of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Eastern Visayas and his staff member in clash with government forces in Samar is a big loss to the communist terrorist group in the region, a Philippine Army (PA) official said on Monday.

Col. Lenart Lelina, commander of the 801st Infantry Brigade said the death of Rodrigo Mejica Lorezo, 60, commander of the regional operation command of the NPA Eastern Visayas regional party committee (EVRPC) and his staff Rosco Rotalano, 58, is a big accomplishment in the government’s campaign to end the armed conflict.

Lelina said the duo were killed in a 10-minute gun battle between government forces and a band of six rebels in upland Hilumot village in San Jose de Buan, Samar on August 1.

“All directives to launch tactical offensives against government came from Lorezo since he was the commander. He’s been with NPA for decades as one of the original members. This will further weaken their organization,” Lelina told the Philippine News Agency

The clash was part of a series of offensives against armed rebels from Las Navas, Northern Samar to the mountains of Samar province. The remaining NPA members have been evading intensified operations of the PA and Philippine National Police (PNP).

After the clash, troops from the Army’s 87th Infantry Battalion and PNP’s 1st and 2nd Samar mobile force company captured an NPA fighter and seized an M16 rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, a bag containing subversive documents with high intelligence value, a backpack with personal belongings, a bandolier and three long steel magazines.

After being outnumbered, the rebels fled and left behind their fallen comrades. There is no reported casualty on the government side.

“It’s good that we’re able to establish intelligence networks in villages and conduct of retooled communist support program. This encouraged residents to report sightings of NPA members in their communities,” Lelina added.

The military, local police, and the local government provided a descent burial to the two slain rebels at the town’s public cemetery.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (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)