Eight dead as Army overruns ‘rebel lair’

By Jennifer Rendon

At least eight suspected New People’s Army were killed after members of the Philippine Army overran their lair in Miag-ao, Iloilo early morning of Dec 1, 2021.

Brigadier General Marion Sison, 301st Infantry Brigade commander, said there could be more casualties as government forces are still scouring the encounter site at Barangay Alimodias, a hinterland village 25 kilometers away from the town proper.

The area already bounds Iloilo and the town of Sibalom, Antique.

“We’re basing the number of dead persons on the actual body counts at the encounter site,” he said.

Citing accounts from witnesses, Sison said around 17 to 20 rebels were wounded.

Sison said government forces used artillery and land assets to locate the group of around 70 rebels who were reportedly holding a plenum or meeting ahead of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) 53rd founding anniversary on December 26.

The CPP is the political organ of the rebel movement.

“We received that information about three days ago and we immediately planned on our operations,” he said.

Present during the plenum were members of the Southern Front and other members of different fronts and regional officers of the Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay (KR-P).

The most ranking leader that was allegedly present was Joeven “Lex” Ceralvo, commander of Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay (KR-P)’s Southern Front.

It remains unclear if Ceralvo, who is also a member of KR-P executive committee, was part of the casualties or was able to flee from the site.

“They were planning a grand tactical offensive to highlight their celebration,” Sison said.

By grand tactical offensive, he said they were planning an attack against a military detachment or a police station.

“They were in fact doing a rehearsal on how to carry out their plan,” he said.

On top of that, the NPAs allegedly wanted to avenge the losses they suffered in the past.

“Gusto sana nilang bumawi targeting government forces,” he added.

Military and police forces have secured the area, as more casualties and injuries are expected to pile up.

Sison said residents in the area were not affected, as the nearest house is around 1.6 kilometers from the encounter site.

Meanwhile, both the 3rd Infantry Division and the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) have alerted all nearby troops to be on guard and conduct checkpoints on possible escape routes.