REBEL’S REMAINS. Troops of the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion and personnel of the Isabela Municipal Police Station in Negros Occidental turn over the remains of CPP-NPA leader and notorious hitman Virgilio “Kumander Bedam” Tamban to his family at the Leo Memorial Chapels on March 10, 2022. Tamban and his comrade Ben Jack “Ka Yuhan” Rueles were killed in a clash with soldiers in Barangay Amin, Isabela town early morning of March 9. (Photo courtesy of 62nd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – The bodies of the two Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebels, killed during a clash with soldiers in Isabela, Negros Occidental on March 9, were already claimed by their respective families, the Philippine Army said on Saturday.

In a report, the 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) said their troops, together with personnel of Isabela Municipal Police Station, turned over the remains at the Leo Memorial Chapels on March 10.

The fatalities were identified as Virgilio “Kumander Bedam” Tamban, commanding officer of Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda Platoon Lenovo of the NPA’s Leonardo Panaligan Command, who has been tagged by the military as a “notorious hitman”; and Ben Jack “Ka Yuhan” Rueles, a member of the Regional Striking Force of Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor.

Both are residents of Sitio Casingan, Barangay Trinidad in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

The turn-over was facilitated by the Local Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict of Guihulngan City and Municipality of Isabela.

In an earlier statement, Lt. Col. William Pesase Jr., acting commanding officer of 62IB, said justice has been served to the civilians killed by Tamban’s group.

“I commend the bravery of the concerned residents in divulging reliable information to finally stop the killings initiated by the NPA in central Negros,” he added.

Tamban and his comrades were the primary suspects in the murder of five persons in central Negros from February 16 to March 2 this year.

Last Wednesday, troops of 62IB responded to a report that about 10 CPP-NPA members had planned to execute a civilian they suspected to be a government informant, leading to a clash with the rebels which led to the deaths of Tamban and Rueles.

Hours after the encounter, residents of Barangay Amin led by village chief Noel Magquilat took an oath of allegiance to the Philippine government during the local peace engagement and insurgency awareness symposium conducted by the 62IB.

Magquilat assured the troops their village will continue to support peace and development efforts and the implementation of government programs.

Maj. Alenel Valles, executive officer of 62IB, said the successful operation against the CPP-NPA rebels was made possible because of the courage and cooperation of the locals.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)