NSFA, Panacan, Davao City – Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) through the directive of LtGen. Greg T. Almerol has successfully foiled the planned attacks of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) against civilian communities as the troops of 1001st Infantry Brigade killed a CTG high-ranking leader and two of his companions during an encounter in Brgy. Tupaz Maragusan, Davao de Oro on March 27.
They were identified as Ezequil Cortez Daguman, Central Committee member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Executive Committee member of Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), and Deputy Secretary/Intelligence Officer of Regional Operations Command (ROC), SMRC; Ruel Baylon; and Quirino Remegio, all members of ROC, SMRC.
Troops also seized high-powered firearms and war materiel composed of three M4 rifles, an M16A1 rifle, an AK47, two M203 grenade launchers, an improvised explosive device (IED), several 40mm high-explosive ammunitions, 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunitions, medical paraphernalia, and personal belongings.
LtGen. Almerol said that the encounter occurred a day before the 53rd Founding Anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA) wherein it was purportedly directed by the CPP to conduct terroristic activities against vulnerable communities. However, these were preempted through the report of concerned citizens.
“Our troops who have been conducting focused military operations since last year to sustain our crackdown against the remaining CTG were alerted by concerned citizens on the presence of armed groups attempting to plant an IED along the road. This was immediately responded to by the 1001st Brigade’s troops, which led to a series of armed encounters and resulted in the death of Daguman and his comrades,” he said.
The EastMinCom Commander bared that Daguman was a notorious CTG personality who was wanted for various crimes including kidnapping, serious illegal detention, double murder, robbery with violence, and murder.
“He was involved in the attacks and burning of the Lapanday Corporation Plastic Plant and Lorenzo Farm in Davao City, and the Macondray Plastic Plant in Panabo City on April 29, 2017. This led to the death of a fish vendor identified as Larry Buenafe during an IED explosion, which was supposed to block EastMinCom’s responding troops,” he recalled.
Apart from this, Daguman was also pointed to the murder of Datu Ruben Labawan, a tribal leader in Paquibato, Davao City in 2015.
“With the death of Daguman, those who fell victim to his atrocities, particularly the Indigenous Peoples and innocent civilians in Mindanao will now be given justice,” LtGen. Almerol expressed.
Meanwhile, the EastMinCom Commander assessed that the CTG’s foiled attacks add more proof of their weakened capability due to the massive neutralization of their leaders and members, recovery of firearms, and withdrawal of support of mass organizations.
For the 1st Quarter of 2022, EastMinCom has recorded the neutralization of 357 CTG personalities composed of 126 surrendered, 20 killed, 14 captured/apprehended, and 197 withdrawing their support. Troops also seized a total of 176 firearms composed of 157 high-powered and 19 low-powered, as well as recovered 59 anti-personnel mines.
LtGen. Almerol further shared that the CTG is on the verge of collapse, especially in the area of Davao Region, following the successive neutralization of its ranking leaders in the previous days and the firm support of the communities and local leaders to put an end to the local communist armed conflict.
“The CPP-NPA’s threats are mere words to show force. These are already futile to their forces on the ground who are hungry, exhausted, and lack the resources to continue fighting due to the series of encounters with our troops,” he said.
“With our continued focused military operations and support of the local government units, local agencies, and other civilian sectors, we will ensure that the CTG’s reign of terror will end until we finally achieve total peace and development in this part of our country,” he added, emphasizing that “the CTG is now at the sunset of their 53 years of cruelty.”
The EastMinCom Commander also reiterated his appeal to the remaining members of the CTG to spare their lives by yielding to troops just as their former comrades who are now enjoying the benefits of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) – a government intervention to aid them as they reintegrate into mainstream society.
“Time and again, we are giving you the chance to live a new and peaceful life through the programs of government. May the recent death of your three comrades convince you that we are serious in our call. Those who will not heed will surely fall at the hands of government security forces,” he said.