Military officials said on Monday, November 1, their eyes were now on slain communist leader Jorge Madlos’ widow because she would most likely take over the command of the New People’s Army’s national operations center.
Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao commander Lieutenant General Greg Almerol said Myrna Sularte, also known as Maria Malaya, could succeed Madlos because of her influence in the rebel organization’s hierarchy.
Sularte is currently the secretary of the NPA’s regional committee and National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesperson in northeastern Mindanao.
“Only she is left among the NPA leaders who have the stature like Madlos’,” Almerol said.
He said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) would find it hard to replace Madlos, who was also a politburo member of its central committee.
Almerol was in the 4th Infantry Division headquarters in Cagayan de Oro on Monday to give medals to the commanders of the military units involved in the operation against Madlos.
Madlos, 72, was killed alongside his medical aide, Eighfel Dela Peña aka Ka Pica, during what the military claimed to be a firefight between government troops and rebels in Sitio Gabunan, Barangay Dumalaguing in Impasug-ong town in Bukidnon, over the weekend.
Sularte issued a statement on behalf of the NDF on Sunday, October 31, confirming the death of Madlos and his aide, but she claimed that the military ambushed the two in Impasug-ong town on Friday night, October 29.
Major General Romeo Brawner Jr., 4th ID commander, said Air Force F50 jets were used to drop bombs on the rebel encampment in Sitio Gabunan.
“We had to use the F50 jets to drop bombs and clear a path to the camp for our soldiers,” Brawner said.
Brawner said all the jet planes proceeded to land at the Sasa Airport in Davao City after dropping their 500-lbs bombs on Sitio Gabunan.
He said the NPA camp was surrounded with anti-personnel mines, some as big as milk cans, that it would have been impossible to breach it without casualties.
Brawner said the final assault was made by a platoon of 20 soldiers from the 8th Infantry Division, 1st Special Forces Battalion, and the 2nd Army Ranger Company on Saturday.
The Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade commander, Brigadier General Ferdinand Barandon, said the soldiers were only able to enter the camp around 11:30 am on the same day, hours after the airstrikes. – Rappler.com
Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship