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Military: Ranking CPP-NPA leader, 2 others slain in Antipolo clash

LUCENA CITY – Government forces killed a suspected ranking communist rebel leader in Southern Tagalog region and two others in an alleged shootout in Antipolo City early Thursday, a regional Army spokesman said.

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In a report, Captain Jayrald Ternio, head of the public affairs office of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, identified the slain rebel as Armando Lazarte alias “Pat Romano”, alleged secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines – Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee’s Sub-Regional Military Area 4A.

Report from Police Regional Office 4 identified one of the slain rebels as “Ka Bisaya,” alleged NPA Platoon leader in the region. The other rebel is still unidentified.

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The report, quoting Lt. Colonel Christopher Diaz, commander of the Army’s 80th Infantry Battalion which operates in Rizal province, said the combined military and police forces, armed with warrant of arrest, went to Lazarte’s safe house inside Sierra Vista Subdivision in Barangay (village) Cupang around 2 a.m.

Lazarte and his two other companions reportedly opened fire, prompting the government forces to retaliate.

Ternio said the government forces applied first aid treatment to the wounded rebels. But they died while being taken to Amang Rodriguez Hospital in Marikina City.

No member of the government forces was hurt in the shootout.

The government troops reportedly seized one M16 rifle, one 9mm pistol, one caliber .45 pistol, two hand grenades, laptops, mobile phones and rebel documents.

Report said the presence of Lazarte and companions in the area was tipped off by “informants” from inside the rebel movement.

Diaz tagged Lazarta as “notorious New People’s Army (NPA) commander” who allegedly led the burning of equipment at the Kaliwa Dam project in Infanta, Quezon early this year.

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The military also claimed that Lazarte led a series of ambush that used land mines against policemen in Baras and Antipolo City sometimes last year

Diaz said the death of Lazarte “is a decisive blow to the communist terrorists for it will result to leadership vacuum”.

The military said Lazarte was the second high-ranking communist rebel leader from Southern Tagalog who had been neutralized in nine days following the arrest of Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City, where the NPA leader was supposedly confined due to hypertension.

Padilla was the NPA spokesman in the Southern Tagalog region.

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