According to the army, a top New People’s Army official facing criminal charges was killed in an early Thursday morning shootout with government security forces in Antipolo City in Rizal.
A military statement named the slain rebel as Armando Lazarte alias Pat Romano, allegedly the Sub-Regional Military Area 4A secretary of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee.
Around 2 a.m. Lazarte was murdered. After shooting soldiers and police officers who were about to serve arrest warrants for murder and frustrated assassination against him in the Brgy Cupang subdivision.
In the ensuing shootout, Lazarte’s two associates were also killed.
Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Diaz, commander of the 80th Infantry Battalion operating in Rizal, described Lazarte as “the notorious commander of the NPA.” Lazarte said earlier this year he led the burning of equipment for the Kaliwa Dam project in Infanta, Quezon, and the series of landmines used against police officers in Baras and Antipolo City in 2018.
Colonel Alex Rillera, commander of the 202nd Brigade with operational jurisdiction over the area, said they applied first aid after the initial fire exchange to the wounded rebels who were then taken to Amang Rodriguez Hospital where they were declared dead by the attending physician upon arrival.
Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay, the incoming head of the Philippine Army and outgoing commander of Southern Luzon, hailed the government troops for “being relentless in crushing the terrorists of the NPA in Southern Tagalog, paving the way for stability, prosperity and growth in the immediate south of the seat of power of the national government.”
The military said Lazarte was Southern Tagalog’s second high-ranking NPA leader to be neutralized in November after Jaime Padilla, a member of the central committee, was arrested.