DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 January) – Government forces killed Menandro Villanueva alias “Bok,” a top leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao, during a clash between the military and communist guerillas last Wednesday in Barangay Libudon in Mabini, Davao De Oro.
In a press release, Lt Gen Greg Almerol, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) said that Villanueva, the longest serving NPA leader in Mindanao, held key positions in the armed movement including his being a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Almerol added that Villanueva was one of the founding members of the NPA, along with Edgar Jopson in the 1970s, and became associated with the communist movement when he was a student at the Philippine Science High School as an activist under the Kabataang Makabayan.
The NPA was formed on March 29, 1969 with remnants of the Hukbong Magpapalaya ng Bayan, three months after the founding of the CPP on December 26, 1968.
“Throughout his 51 years with the CTG (communist terrorist group), he was wanted for several charges including multiple murder, double frustrated murder, arson, robbery with intimidation, and rebellion, among others,” Almerol alleged.
He said the neutralization of Villanueva was a major blow to the communist organization and left a “huge void” within the movement.
“It will take the CTG some time to replace a seasoned leader as Villanueva. As a result of this, we expect more communist terrorists to either yield to the troops or continue to suffer defeats under an inexperienced leader in the coming days,” he said.
A total of 17 top NPA leaders were killed and 545 members surrendered since the first quarter of 2021, according to EastMinCom. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)