INTERNATIONAL BEAUTY QUEEN FROM EASTERN SAMAR.Meiji Cruz was crowned as this year’s Miss Cosmo World, besting 25 other candidates during a ceremony held in Malaysia on Nov.30. The mother of the 28-year-old beauty queen is from Oras, Eastern Samar. (PHOTO COURTESY)

Ligayo says deaths of NPA leaders prelude to victory

CATBALOGAN CITY– The series of successful military operations in Northern Samar by the government forces in the region is a major accomplishment not only for the 8th Infantry Division (ID) but also for the entire Armed Forces.

This was according to Major General Camilo Ligayo, the commanding officer of the 8th ID, who made the statement during the retirement ceremony and change of chief of assistant division commander at Camp Vicente Lukban in this city on Nov. 23.

“This is not only an accomplishment of the 8th ID but of the entire Philippine Army and the AFP because we were able to overrun a big camp, and recover several firearms and ammunition,” he said.

“This is the first time that we recovered a major camp of the EVRPC. This shows the strength of government forces,” Ligayo added.

Ligayo was referring to the Nov. 23 encounter in Barangay Imelda, Las Navas in Northern Samar where four of the five communist fronts are still operating.

The said one-hour encounter resulted in the deaths of six rebels who were later identified to be top officials of the communist armed group.

These top leaders were Helenita Pardales aka Elay or Selin, secretary of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC); alias Biboy or Orlan, head of the regional operations command.

Also killed were alias Mamoy, top leader of the regional security force; alias Caridad, who held the position as finance officer; alias Joshua, a team leader; and alias Boy, a team member.

Ligayo added that more operations will be conducted by the army to achieve the order from the higher headquarters to quell the communist armed group before the end of this year.
The region’s top military official had earlier said that they sees the end of the armed group in the region by the first quarter of next year.

Ligayo has called on the remaining combatants to give up their armed struggle and return to the folds of the law.

“I am appealing to the remaining members of the NPA to surrender and avail the program of the government especially that we have ELCAC wherein all government agencies are working together to provide the needs and solutions to the problem of communities mostly affected by insurgency,” he said.

Meantime, Capt. Valben Almirante, the civil military operations officer of the 803rd Infantry Battalion based in Catarman, said that the deaths of the top rebel leaders could result in the further ‘weakening’ of the armed group in the region.

“We expect that with the deaths of their top leaders will weaken their group and create a leadership vacuum and the surrender of their members or at least they will lie low,” he said in a phone interview.

“(But definitely), this is a big blow to them considering among those killed were their top leaders,” Almirante added.

Almirante also said that despite of the setback encountered by the rebels in the region, they are not putting their guards down.

“We are anticipating of their counter-offensives, especially that they will mark their anniversary on December 26,” he said.

The 8th ID said that the group were responsible in various attacks in Samar Island which resulted in the deaths of government forces and injured civilians, including children.