Maco, Davao de Oro – The remaining high ranking officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Southern Mindanao is “very close” to being captured, a military official said Monday.
Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, commander of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade (1001IB), said in a press briefing here government troops are closing in on Eric Jun Casilao, the secretary of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).
Casilao, who carries the aliases “Elian” or “Wally,” is the brother of former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Baring Casilao.
“I believe we are really close to getting Elian. We have monitored his movement, and we believe that not for long, we will get him,” Durante said.
Casilao has been with the CPP- NPA for some 20 years and is wanted for multiple criminal cases that include two counts of murder, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention.
Groomed to be the successor of slain rebel commander Menandro Villanueva, Casilao has a PHP5.4 million bounty on his head.
“We were able to cut through his supply points and financial resources. They have changed their area of maneuver, and we know that they are in the New Bataan and Maragusan area,” Durante said.
Casilao’s group took refuge in the area believing that they would be protected by NPA sympathizers, the military official said.
“What they don’t know is that there are no more mass bases present in the area. The people there are fed up with the deception, lies, and atrocities of the CPP-NPA,” Durante said.
With President Rodrigo Duterte stepping down from office in June, Durante said he is optimistic that they will meet the deadline in fully dismantling SMRC to the last man.
“Well, if not totally dismantled, there will be a big change when it comes to their existence. They will no longer become a potent force and a potent threat not just to peace but also to those who were affected by their extortion activities,” he added.
Durante said the military is also working on dismantling the other remaining guerilla fronts in Southern Mindanao.
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. (Che Palicte)
(Source: Philippine News Agency)