NPA”s ‘Kumander Joker’: dead or alive?

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/28 Oct) — The National Democratic Front’s North Central Mindanao regional Committee (NDF-NCMR) says Ricardo “Kumander Joker” Manalili of the New People’s Army (NPA)  is not dead, contrary to the announcement of the military that he was killed in a military operation. But the spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division says the NDF has to prove them wrong.

The NDF-NCMR and the AFP have been engaging in a propaganda war over Manalili, front secretary of NPA’s guerrilla front 4A-North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

“Well, they just have to prove that. We are ready to rectify our statement if proven wrong. But until such, we stand by our report. What we know is that we hit him badly during that encounter,” 4ID spokesperson Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias IV said in a text message, Tuesday.

In an e-mailed statement, Osias announced that an encounter between the government troops and the NPA last October 6 in Barangay Calabuan, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur claimed the life of Manalili and four other guerrillas. He also said seven NPA combatants were injured and 12 high -powered firearms, improvised explosive devices and assorted ammunition, were recovered.

Osias said Manalili “was confirmed dead…by his family and relatives.”

Manalil, according to the statement, is “responsible for the recent attack in Medina Municipal Police Station and town hall, burning of equipments owned by Minergy in Brgy Plaridel, Claveria, liquidations of former soldiers and barangay officials, ransacking of the house of retired army personnel and the extortion activities at Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Norte, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur areas.”

Cesar Renerio, spokesperson of the NDF-NCMR admitted in an e-mailed statement, Tuesday, that “there had been an encounter between troops under Cesar Cayon Command- Front 4A-New Peoples’ Army and of the elements of the 42nd Scout Ranger Company of the AFP last October 6, at around 11 o’clock in the morning in Sitio Kilagnay, Barangay Kinamaybay, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur with Ka Joker fighting alongside the Red soldiers.”

Renerio denied that government soldiers killed Manalili in the clash.

“It is also true that twelve high-powered rifles were taken from Ka Joker’s unit, together with a few military hardware and personal belongings. They suffered two wounded comrades but Ka Joker never got hit by any gun during the encounter. On the enemy side, however, reports from the villagers themselves have yielded four dead and two wounded,” Renerio said.

He claimed that Osias “spun” the supposed death of Manalili “as a gift for General Eduardo Oban, AFP chief-of-staff,  “to quench his rage and soothe his demoralized troops” to justify the government troops’ failure to respond to the seven-hour daylight siege of three adjacent mining compounds in Claver, Surigao del Norte early this month. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)