The top New People’s Army (NPA) leader in Iloilo was among those killed when government forces assaulted a rebel camp in Miagao town earlier this week, the military said Saturday.
Joven Ceralvo alias Lex, second deputy secretary of Kometing Rehiyon-Panay’s (KR-P) Southern Front, was the operation’s ninth “confirmed” fatality, according to the Army’s 301st Brigade.
Ceralvo, who also heads KR-P’s Front Operational Command, had been implicated in cases of rebellion, robbery, arson, carnapping, multiple attempted murder, and frustrated murder.
His death was confirmed following the forensic examination done by the Philippine National Police’s Scene of the Crime Operatives, the military unit said.
Capt. Roel Maglalang, acting 301st Brigade spokesperson, said they maintain a death toll of 16 on the clash despite the recovery of only nine bodies, amid continued reports indicating a large number of rebel casualties.
“We maintain that (number of fatalities). That is information from reliable sources. Our scouring operations in the hinterlands continue and hopefully we recover and identify more,” he said.
The military conducted an airstrike, fired artillery, and sent ground troops to the rebel lair in Sitio Burak, Barangay Alimodias, last Wednesday.
Maj. Gen Benedict Arevalo, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said the deaths of Ceralvo and his comrades serve as a warning to remaining rebels that they will suffer the same fate if they don’t surrender peacefully.
“His (Ceralvo) death is considered as justice served for all the victims of atrocities he has committed and a major setback to communist terrorist group in Panay,” Arevalo said in a statement.