DECENT BURIAL. The Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion, with the support of the local government units, accorded decent burial to the two New People’s Army combatants killed in an encounter on Dec. 27, 2020 in Barangay Baleguian, Jabonga, Agusan del Norte. Army officials have called on the parents to pay close attention to their children, the usual target for the communist rebels' recruitment. (Photo courtesy of 29IB)

BUTUAN CITY – The Army's 29th Infantry Battalion (29IB) and the local government units (LGUs) of Jabonga and Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte accorded decent burial to the two New People’s Army (NPA) combatants killed in an encounter on Dec. 27 in Barangay Baleguian, Jabonga town.

“The dead NPA rebels were already claimed by family members last Dec. 28 and 30,” 1Lt. Edmar C. Colagong, the civil-military operation (CMO) officer of 29IB, said in a press statement Thursday.

The slain rebels were identified as Reggie May Ochavillo, 20, a resident of Cabadbaran City, and Marife Mercansel Montero, 23, of Tago, Surigao del Sur

“Ochavillo’s body was claimed by his grandparents on December 28 while Montero’s cadaver was turned over to her sister last December 30,” Colagong said.

Lt. Col. Aristotle F. Antonio, 29IB commander, expressed sadness over the fate of the two rebel combatants.

"I am saddened to see the terrible situation that our youths fall into after being deceived by the NPA,” Antonio said in the same statement.

He said the parents and family members of NPA combatants are not aware of the harsh realities inside the communist rebel movement.

“We plead with you once more to help us make them see the light and find their way back. And, if you think that lying about them and hiding their true nature from us would protect them, think about it again, for doing so will just put them in great danger,” Antonio said.

Montero’s sister was quoted in the statement as saying that the family thought Marife was doing well with her studies and that they had no idea she had joined the rebels.

“She told us that she will go to school, so our mother sent her money for her enrollment. But then she was recruited while in school by her classmates,” the slain rebel's sister said

Col. George L. Banzon, commander of the Army's 901st Infantry Brigade, condemned the NPA leadership and the Communist Party of the Philippines for their "longstanding deceptions and exploitations of students and youth to advance their hidden agenda."

“The CTG’s (Communist Terrorist Groups) are using lies and propaganda to entice the youth to join their violent movement. We also denounced the CTG for the unfortunate demise of two young individuals,” Banzon said.

Banzon also appealed to the parents to be "mindful of their children who are vulnerable and target of CTG’s recruitment." (PNA)