Negros Occidental

Top NPA leader in Negros Occidental killed in Himamaylan clash

Marchel P. Espina
Top NPA leader in Negros Occidental killed in Himamaylan clash

NPA LEADER FALLS. Troops of the 94th Infantry Battalion killed Romeo Nanta alias Juanito Magbanua, the head of the Negros Island NPA on October 10 during a Himamaylan City clash.

10./30rd IB photo

(1ST UPDATE) The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command claims the death of Romeo Nanta, also known as Juanito Magbanua, as a summary execution after his capture

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The military announced on Tuesday, October 11, that the commanding officer of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros island was killed during clashes between government troops and communist rebels in Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental the day before.

The 303rd Infantry Brigade (303IB) said Romeo Nanta, better known by his nom de guerre Juanito Magbanua, headed the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command and was the spokesman of the Communist Party of the Philippines Negros-Cebu-Bohol-Siquijor regional committee. He was killed on Monday, October 10, the sixth day of clashes in Barangay Carabalan.

But in a statement sent to reporters, the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command said, “it was a cold-blooded murder, not an encounter, that happened yesterday afternoon in Sitio Mede.” Nanta “was summarily killed by elements of the 94th Infantry Battalion after he was captured in the area,” the command said.

The military said Nanta was identified when troops brought his body to the Himamaylan police station.

303IB chief Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte called Nanta “the most wanted terrorist in Negros Island,” adding that his death “is a big blow to the NPA.” He said Nanta was arrested in 2011 for murder, frustrated murder, robbery, and damage to properties.

“He is, directly and indirectly, responsible for the death of soldiers, policemen, Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit, and innocent civilians. He is also responsible for the ambush of policemen in Binalbagan early this year,” said Pasaporte.

The NPA command said Magbanua suffered from hypertension and arthritis and chose to stay in Sitio Medel “to closely monitor the situation of the masses while the NPA unit maneuvered away from the area after the October 6 encounter.”

Magbanua “should have been accorded the status of hors de combat (combatants who are not in a position to fight). His rights should have been respected and treated with humanity,” the statement said.

‘No man’s land’

The provincial government said that 15,000 individuals or 3,543 families from barangays 3, Carabalan, and Cabadiangan were affected by clashes. 

The number of actual evacuees was over 5,000 individuals and city welfare staff said they expect hundreds of families to reach government centers on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

EVACUEES. One of 14 evacuation sites for more than 5,000 temporarily homeless Himamaylan City residents. (Himamaylan CSWD)

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson told affected residents to remain in the evacuation centers until the military gives the green light for their return to their mountain villages.

On Monday, Himamaylan Vice Mayor Justin Gatuslao told Rappler that the entire Barangay Carabalan is “on lockdown.” The barangay has a population of 13,000, according to the 2020 Philippine census. 

There was no word yet from the CPP on the reported death of Nanta. 

Marco Valbuena, the CPP chief information officer on Monday said on Twitter: “More than 2,200 residents of Brgy Carabalan were forced to flee their homes due to relentless AFP shelling, strafing and hamletting. Their village is a virtual prison as AFP imposes a lockdown and a ‘no man’s land.'”

Alternative news site Paghimu-tad said other areas on lockdown are sitios Palayan, Tongo, and Guia in Barangay Cabadiangan; and parts of Barangay Biao in neighboring Binalbagan town. – Rappler.com

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