Albuera, Leyte - In a significant operation early Saturday morning, Philippine Army forces killed a high-ranking leader and another member of the New People's Army (NPA) in the upland Tinag-an village of Albuera, Leyte. The military action comes after extensive efforts to locate the insurgents within Leyte Island's dense jungles.
According to Philippines News Agency, the confrontation resulted in the deaths of Rolando Caballera, a member of the NPA's regional executive committee in Eastern Visayas, and Crispolo Agunos Jr., identified as a platoon member. Brig. Gen. Noel Vestuir, commander of the Army's 802nd Infantry Brigade, reported that Caballera was wanted under a pending warrant for his involvement in plotting the assassination of several former comrades who had surrendered to government forces.
"The deaths of these two notorious NPA terrorists underscore the community's determination to thwart the NPA's efforts to regroup in their area. Our success was facilitated by critical information from local residents, which helped us locate and engage these terrorists," Vestuir explained in a telephone interview. He noted that Caballera hailed from Luneta village in Lapaz, Leyte, and Agunos from Rizal village in Kananga, Leyte.
Lt. Col. Charlie Saclot, commander of the Army's 93rd Infantry Battalion, emphasized that civilian tips about armed individuals engaging in extortion greatly aided the military. "The actionable intelligence on the NPA's whereabouts and activities provided by the community enabled our troops to effectively track and confront them, leading to a 15-minute firefight," Saclot stated.
Additionally, Vestuir mentioned the 802nd Brigade's recent return to Ormoc City from Borongan City in Eastern Samar as a strategic move to consolidate peace in regions previously troubled by NPA activities. This redeployment marks a continued commitment to safeguarding Leyte and parts of Samar and Eastern Samar from insurgent recovery efforts, aligning with the broader operational focus of the 801st and 803rd Brigades on combating rebel forces in the Samar provinces.
The operation in Albuera not only represents a blow to the NPA's presence in Eastern Visayas but also illustrates the critical role of community-military cooperation in maintaining security and peace in the region.