By Priam Nepomuceno

AFP chief Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro (PNA photo)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Friday a series of military operations in Northern Samar that began in October resulted in the neutralization of a ranking New People’s Army (NPA) leader and 20 other rebels.

In a statement, it said Wednesday’s operation in Barangay Imelda in Las Navas town resulted in the death of Helenita Pardales, the leader of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines – NPA – National Democratic Front.

Five other ranking NPA members were killed in a joint operation spearheaded by the 803rd Infantry Brigade under the supervision of the Joint Task Force Storm (8th Infantry Division).

A total of 10 NPA members were killed in six armed engagements since October 7.

Seven NPA members also surrendered, four were apprehended, and 38 firearms were seized from the communist movement during this period.

AFP chief Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro said the strategic accomplishment is expected to disintegrate the NPA forces in Samar Island and significantly affect their presence in neighboring provinces as the EVRPC connects the NPA in the Visayas and Mindanao to those in Luzon.

Bacarro, meanwhile, congratulated troops of the 803rd Infantry Brigade during his visit to their headquarters in Barangay Sumoroy, Catarman, Northern Samar on November 24.

He also assured the troops of the continued support of the AFP leadership as the military ramps up its efforts to finally end the communist armed conflict in the country. (PNA)