A top-ranking leader of the New People’s Army was killed in an encounter in Davao City Sunday afternoon, the military said.
SecurityMatters sources reported that Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago, commander of Pulang Bagani Command (Red Fighters Command) in Southern Mindanao, was killed in an encounter with army troopers at 2:30 p.m. today in the city’s Paquibato district.
According to reports, a composite team of the 6th Scout Ranger Company, the 69th Infantry Battalion, intelligence units, and infantry units of the 10th Infantry Division were conducting combat operations in Purok 9, Barangay Pañalum when they encountered Pitao and his men.
A 20-minute firefight ensued, killing Pitao and a female NPA rebel.
Recovered from the encounter site were two M-16 rifles, three rifle grenades, two magazines for M-16 rifles, and three backpacks.
Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ano, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, confirmed the rebel leader’s death.
Año said the military has clashed with Pitao’s group four times since a special operation was launched to go after the NPA leader two weeks ago.
Pitao was tagged in the 1999 kidnapping of Army Brig. Gen. Victor Obillo, commander of the Army’s 55th Engineering Brigade, and his aide, Maj. Eduardo Montealto.
Año said the slain NPA official’s command, composed of around 80 to 100 men and operating in Davao City and Davao del Norte, is considered the “fiercest” among the NPA units operating in the Davao region.
The NPAs in Mindanao has lost their legitimacy when they resorted to rampant extortion and kidnapping for ransom. They have been losing mass base support as they intensified their collection of revolutionary taxes from their own peasant base.
Pitao’s death marked the end of the NPA in the Davao region, Año added.