CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 14 November) — A former student leader and Magna Cum Laude graduate of Xavier University who joined the communist rebels in the 1970s was killed in an encounter with Army troops in Tampilisan town, Zamboanga del Norte on Friday.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said the body of Leonardo “Nido” Nabong was found after the rebels engaged Army troops in a 45-minute gunfight in Purok 2, Barangay ZNAC, Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte at around 6:15 p.m.
Vinluan said Nabong was the first deputy secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) covering Mt. Malindang which straddles the provinces of Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur
Nabong was better known by his nickname” Nido.” His schoolmates in Xavier University admired him after he joined the New People’s Army (NPA) in the early years of Marcos’ martial law.
Vinluan said Nabong was with 10 other armed fighters of the NPA Guerrilla Front Flex A when soldiers engaged them in barangay ZNAC.
“An exchange of gunfire ensued for 45 minutes after which the militants withdrew,” Vinluan said.
Vinluan said four M16 and one M14 rifles, one M203 grenade launcher, 10 long and four short magazines for M16 rifle, six rounds live ammunition of 40mm were seized at the encounter site.
The military said Nabong, known by his aliases “Otik/Berto/Bonie,” was also an Executive Committee member of the Komisyon Mindanao (KOMMID) and carried a reward of 6.15 million pesos for his capture dead or alive.
Nabong had been reported to have died several times in past, prompting the military to present a photograph of his dead body.
Several former classmates, friends and former rebels attested that the person in the photograph was Nabong.
Nabong graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Agriculture at the Xavier University in 1976. He was Salutatorian in high school at the same university.
After college graduation, he worked in a banana plantation in Compostela Valley.
He later joined the NPA allegedly after the family’s land in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental was sequestered by government to become part of what is now the Phividec Industrial Authority.
He was a relative of the late Misamis Oriental Vice Gov. Norris Babiera and friend of the late Cagayan de Oro Mayor Vicente Emano.
Nabong used to command NPA guerilla Front B covering the eastern part of Misamis Oriental before he was transferred to guerilla front “Monterosa” in Mt. Malindang.
He also represented the Communist Party of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao in the 1986 peace talks under the administration of then President Corazon Aquino.
His former comrades said the death of Nabong, a known strategist and guerilla leader, will be a big loss to the NPA. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)