“Ka Oris had long wished to return to Siargao Island where he grew up as a boy. Perhaps, his wish could be fulfilled.”–CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said it supports the wishes of Ka Oris’ family to retrieve his remains and conduct a proper wake for the fallen New People’s Army (NPA) spokesperson.
In a statement, CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said that the military is engaged in a cover-up of the real circumstances surrounding Oris and his aide’s deaths and their families are in a position to demand for an autopsy by an independent pathologist.
Oris (born Jorge Madlos) and his aide the CPP identified as Ka Pika (Eighfel Dela Peña) were killed on Friday in Sitio Gabunan, Barangay Dumalaguing, Impasug-ong town in Bukidnon.
The CPP’s statement came after reports quoted 403rd Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Barandon saying Oris and Pika will be buried at the “encounter site” if found to be COVID-19 positive.
A Rappler report said the military showed to reporters a photograph of a dead person who resembled Oris being swabbed for COVID-19 at the “encounter site.”
Barandon reportedly said Oris’ remains was swabbed so that samples could be tested for COVID-19, citing other NPA rebels killed in clashes with the military or have been arrested since October showed COVID-19 symptoms.
If the swab tests turn up negative, Barandon said the bodies would be brought down to Impasug-ong town proper and turned over to the Philippine National Police.
Valbuena said Oris had long wished to return to Siargao Island where he grew up.
“Perhaps, his wish could be fulfilled,” the CPP spokesperson said.
In his statement, Valbuena echoed National Democratic Front of the Philippines-North East Mindanao Region spokesperson and Oris’ widow Maria Malaya’s accusation that the NPA spokesperson and his aide were murdered and not killed in an encounter.
“Ka Oris and aide Eighfel Dela Peña (Ka Pika) were both unarmed when ambushed. Whether they were ambushed while moving or were accosted and thereafter executed is still unclear,” Valbuena said.
In a news conference at Camp Osito Bahian in Malaybalay City, Major General Romeo Brawner Jr., commander of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division, claimed Oris and Pika were killed in an encounter with 8th Infantry Battalion, the 1st Special Forces Battalion, and Scout Ranger soldiers.
Malaya however said Oris and Pika were riding a motorcycle on their way to seek medical treatment.
The elderly Oris was publicly known to have suffered from renal failure for years.
“Clearly, however, they were not in a position to give battle or fight back and were murdered in cold-blood,” Valbuena said.
Valbuena added the aerial strikes in the vicinity of Barangay Dumalaguing the military first claimed killed Oris were done four hours after the NPA spokesperson and his aide were killed.
“For around two hours, from 12:40 a.m. to past 2 a.m. the AFP dropped at least six large bombs, fired dozens of rockets and strafed the mountainside shattering the peace and causing fear and panic among the people,” he said.
The bombing was to conceal the military’s “crime of murdering unarmed revolutionaries and create a false picture of an armed encounter,” he said.
“They then issued a fat lie claiming of an armed encounter at 11 am (10 hours later) where Ka Oris and Ka Pica were supposedly killed,” Valbuena said.
The CPP said that Brawner and other 4th ID officers’ statements to reporters were brazen lies.
“They are utterly dishonorable officers for propagating false information. We hold Gen. Brawner and the men and officers of the 403 IBde responsible for the murder of Ka Oris and Ka Pica and its coverup,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)