By Malu Cadelina Manar
KIDAPAWAN CITY – A top female leader of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) operating in the mountains of North Cotabato and Davao del Sur was killed when she engaged soldiers and the police in a running gun battle in Makilala, Cotabato, on Friday, a police official said.
Makilala Municipal Police Station (MPS) Chief Major Arniel Melocotones identified the slain rebel as Juanita Gore Tacadao, also known as Commander Ysay and Commander Mareng of Guerilla Front 51 of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.
Melocotones said they proceeded to Sitio Lacobe in Barangay Malabuan in Makilala after informants tipped them of Tacadao’s presence in the area.
At around 10:50 a.m. on February 14, personnel from the Makilala MPS, together with some elements of the 39th Infantry Battalion under Second Lieutenant Alejandro Baliaga, went to Tacadao’s hideout to serve warrants for her arrest for murder that happened sometime in 2015.
The warrants were issued by Judge Magnolia Velez of Regional Trial Court 11 Branch 20 based in Digos City for four criminal cases.
Melocotones, in an interview, said Tacadao and three of her companions attempted to escape when they saw the raiding team approach their place.
Tacadao allegedly fired at the raiding team while fleeing to the mountains that resulted in an exchange of gunfire between her group and the government troops.
According to Melocotones, Tacadao was hit in several parts of her body that caused her instantaneous death. The rebel leader’s companions left her lifeless in the woods, he added,
Authorities recovered from Tacadao a Smith and Wesson 38 caliber revolver with spent cartridges, and a backpack loaded with several bomb-making materials, including two pieces of blasting cap, a detonating cord, and mines.
They also seized from the area a Winchester 7.62MM and an M14 Armalite rifle with serial number 1280702 with several rounds of ammunition.
Around 12:30 noon of February 14, elements of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) in North Cotabato arrived at the area to conduct further investigation.
They later brought the body of Tacadao to the Collado Funeral Homes in Poblacion, Makilala where it underwent post-mortem examination conducted by a registered physician.
Melocotones said a relative of Tacadao has already claimed her body from the funeral parlor on Saturday.
Citing data, the police official said the slain rebel leader was the wife of a top NPA commander who also died in an encounter with government troops in Makilala, sometime in 2017.
The Makilala PNP turned over to SOCO Cotabato for custody the recovered firearms and ammunition while the 39th IB took hold of the bomb-making materials for deeper probe.