New People's Army

Communist rebels ask gov’t to bring Madlos’ body back to Surigao del Norte

Bobby Lagsa
Communist rebels ask gov’t to bring Madlos’ body back to Surigao del Norte

LOST VOICE. In this file photo, NDF spokesperson Ka Oris, or Jorge Madlos, talks to reporters during the rebels' anniversary in Surigao del Sur in 2014.

BOBBY LAGSA / RAPPLER

The National Democratic Front also asks President Duterte to allow a public wake for the slain rebel leader

The communist New People’ Army (NPA) on Monday, November 1, asked the military to bring the remains of slain rebel leader Jorge Madlos back to his hometown in Surigao del Norte, where he could be given a decent burial.

Earlier, Madlos’ wife Myrna Sularte (or Maria Malaya), spokesperson for the National Democratic Front-northeastern Mindanao, also called on President Rodrigo Duterte to allow a public wake for the slain rebel leader.

Ka Sandara Sidlakan, NPA spokesperson in Caraga, told Rappler that the military could opt to return Madlos’ remains to his loved ones in Dapa town, Surigao del Norte, so they could mourn and bury him properly.

Madlos was a key leader in Mindanao, and had been the guerrillas’ spokesperson for decades. His death was another blow to one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies and happened as the military seeks to fulfill Duterte’s vow to crush the rebels by 2022.

If the NDF’s request is granted, it would not be the first time for the President to allow a public wake for a communist rebel leader.

In 2015, the then-Davao City mayor allowed a public wake for slain NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, alias Kumander Parago, in the city. They’re known to be friends.

The 72-year-old Madlos (popularly known as Ka Oris) was killed on Friday, October 29, along with an aide, in what the military claimed to be a clash between rebel and government forces in Sitio Gabunan, Barangay Dumalaguing, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. The military said their bodies were discovered the following day.

The NDF disputed this claim, saying the ailing Madlos and his medical aide, identified by the military as Eighfel Dela Peña, were killed in what appeared to be an ambush on Friday night, October 29.

According the NDF, Madlos and Dela Peña were on a motorcycle on their way to get medical treatment, and never reached the highway.

“We acknowledge the intelligence information of the Armed Forces, and that they located Ka Oris, but there was no encounter,” Sularte said. She maintained that Madlos was sick, unarmed, and that soldiers violated the International Humanitarian Law when they ambushed the two. 

“Ka Oris was in a situation that he cannot fight back and the Army did not follow the rules of engagement. He was a hors de combat,” Sularte said.

After his death, the military had Madlos swabbed so samples could undergo a COVID-19 test.

If the test result shows he caught the virus, the military said Madlos would be buried in Bukidnon. If not, his remains would be handed over to the police.

“We hope that the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] will not block moves for a public wake and funeral for Ka Oris, so that for the last time, those who knew him can pay him their final respects,” Sularte said. – Rappler.com