PROPER BURIAL. The military identifies the New People's Army rebel killed during an encounter in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur on July 22 as Rocky Maturan Vazquez, 33, of Barangay Mahayag, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. His remains were handed over to his family on Monday (July 25, 2022). (Photo courtesy of 65IB)

BUTUAN CITY – The communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebel killed in a recent skirmish in the Agusan del Sur town of Sibagat has been identified and will be given a decent burial, the military here said.

In a statement Monday, the Philippine Army’s 65th Infantry Battalion (65IB) identified the slain insurgent as Rocky Maturan Vazquez, 33, of Barangay Mahayag, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.

Vazquez was killed in an encounter with government forces on July 22 in the hinterlands of Sta. Cruz, Sibagat.

“The remains of the slain NPA rebel were handed over by the 65IB and the Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) of Sibagat town on Monday to his family,” the 65IB said.

Vazquez was identified by his mother, Ermelinda Maturan Vazquez, and his brother, Dindo, who both appeared at the 65IB and presented themselves as the family claimants.

Sibagat Mayor Thelma Lamanilao, who is also chairperson of the local MTF-ELCAC, provided financial assistance to transport the remains of the rebel to Bislig City, Surigao del Sur, for the scheduled burial on Tuesday, July 26.

The MTF-ELCAC condemned the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA for the atrocities committed in the municipality, especially in the far-flung communities.

The rebel’s mother expressed sadness over the fate of her son, saying she had a heavy heart when Rocky left their home.

“You could not have met this sad fate had you listened to me before. I had a heavy heart when you left, but it is more painful seeing you in this situation,” she was quoted as saying in the dialect.

Lt. Col. Emerson De Vera, 65IB commander, urged the remaining NPA rebels in Agusan del Sur to surrender and avail of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

He also condoled with the family of the slain rebel.

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 was 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)