RETRIEVED. Two bodies are found floating off the coast of Libucan Gote village in Tarangnan, Samar on the night of August 25, 2022. The corpses were retrieved as government forces intensified their search near the site where a motorboat carrying suspected members of the New People’s Army had exploded. (Photo from FB page of Libucan Gote)

TACLOBAN CITY – Two more bodies were found off the coast of Tarangnan, Samar on Thursday night as government forces intensified their search near the site where a motorboat carrying suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) had exploded.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force Storm spokesperson Capt. Ryan Layug said a total of four bodies have been found along the shoreline and in the coastal waters of Tarangnan since the blast on August 22.

“There were no claimants of these bodies. No villagers in Catbalogan City and Tarangnan town reported that one of their loved ones (has) been missing. This strengthens our suspicion that these human casualties are members of the New People’s Army on board the boat,” Layug said.

The two corpses were spotted by local fishers in the seawaters of Libucan Gote village in Tarangnan hours after the recovery of a headless body along the shoreline of the same village.

“We are still gathering more details about the two bodies retrieved last night. This is welcome to us as we work on establishing the identity of motorboat passengers,” Layug added.

AFP Joint Task Force Storm commander Maj. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, in a statement on Friday, said to ramp up the search and retrieval operations, more assets and personnel were deployed to the area, following the drifting pattern of the water current.

"We are thankful to the residents, fishermen, and local government officials as they post on social media photos of floating bodies. This helps us take immediate response,” de Leon said.

The search team found the first human remains – the lower part of a woman’s body – on August 23 near the shoreline of Tarangnan town center.

The boat debris and the human remains were believed to have drifted and scattered due to the strong current.

Philippine National Police crime scene operatives said it would take some time to establish the identities of the remains as the samples collected for DNA testing would require a DNA match from a relative.

As of this time, no relatives have shown up to claim a relationship with any of the suspected NPA terrorists.

The clash and the blast took place off the waters of Canhawan-Guti village in Catbalogan at about 4 a.m. on August 22 as the motorboat was reportedly carrying explosives.

Unconfirmed reports claimed that Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army - National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma, the group's secretary general, and other communist personalities were among the passengers of the ill-fated motorboat. (PNA)