NPA leader slain in Laguna clash
Ed Amoroso (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2020 - 12:00am

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna, Philippines — An alleged ranking leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed in an encounter with government security forces in Kalayaan, Laguna on Friday night.

Mario Caraig, alias Jethro, died at the scene following the firefight that occurred at around 11 p.m. in Sitio Boho in Barangay San Antonio.

Caraig was the secretary of the NPA’s Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee 4C, according to Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., chief of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division.

Government security forces recovered two pistols, two hand grenades and subversive documents from the scene of the firefight.

Lt. Col. Jesus Diocton, chief of the Army’s 1st Infantry Battalion, said it was the second encounter between the government forces and the rebels in the same area in three days.

On Aug. 4, three guerrillas, including the head of the NPA’s Main Regional Guerrilla Unit-Southern Tagalog, were killed in a clash in Kalayaan.

Caraig, who used to operate in Batangas and Cavite, was forced to hide in the Sierra Madres after the military dismantled the NPA’s Guerrilla Front Honda in 2018.

Burgos thanked the villagers who informed the military about the presence of a group of armed men in the area.

The men were reportedly extorting money from business owners and farmers.

He described the villagers as patriots for risking their own safety to ensure that the information would reach the military.

No one among the military and the police were wounded or killed in the incident.

The military said Caraig was involved in coercing the Dumagats to join the revolutionary movement.

“The fall of Jethro is a welcome development for the indigenous peoples, because it meant one less terrorist whose primary role was to torment and exploit their fundamental rights,” Burgos told The STAR yesterday.

Checkpoints manned by a joint team of the police and the military have been set up in the area to apprehend the fleeing guerrillas. – Michelle Zoleta

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