AFP on the trail of another top NPA official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2014 06:44 PM | Updated as of Mar 31 2014 09:11 AM

MANILA -- The 4th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is in hot pursuit of another top official of the New People's Army (NPA), a military official said Saturday.

The subject of the pursuit is prominent Communist leader Jorge Madlos, also known as "Ka Oris."

In 2012, the Aquino government offered a P5.6-million reward in exchange for information that would lead to his arrest.

Madlos has led numerous attacks against civilian and military targets in Mindanao, which is under the jurisdiction of the 4th ID.

“He cannot hide forever. There will come a time that we will catch up on him,” said Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division.

The statement was made after the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman Benito Tiamzon, his wife Wilma Austria who is the CPP's secretary general, and five of their staff in Cebu on March 22.

The government has offered P10-million reward each for the capture of the couple. An NPA insider allegedly provided information to the military, leading to the arrest of the couple who are currently detained in Camp Crame.

“Our operations against him are continuing, although he may become very conscious of his security because of what has happened to Tiamzon,” said Visaya, referring to Madlos, the spokesman of the National Democratic Front in Mindanao.

Visaya, however, admitted that it is difficult for the military to set a timetable for the arrest of Madlos, especially as he is believed to be staying in the mountain.

He said Madlos may be one of the candidates to succeed Tiamzon, considering the length of his service to the movement. Madlos has been with the CPP since the 1970s.

But the military general said Madlos, despite being a candidate to succeed Tiamzon, will not automatically get the post because of his age. He is now in his 60s.

Visaya further explained that the arrest of Tiamzon and his wife will result in a leadership vacuum in the communist movement, despite the claim of some communist leaders that the said vacuum will only be temporary.

“They (communists) say that the leadership vacuum (due to Tiamzon’s arrest) is just temporary. Yes, it's temporary but how long is the temporary because it will be hard to select a new leader,” the official said.

Madlos' last reported location was Surigao del Sur. Visaya said about 800 to 900 NPAs are operating in the area of responsibility of the 4th ID, particularly in the entire Caraga region and parts of Northern Mindanao.