MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon (MindaNews / 31 October) — “Jorge Madlos also known as Ka Oris is dead. Patay na po si Jorge Madlos,” Maj. General Romeo Brawner, Jr., commander of the 4thInfantry Division declared during a press conference at Camp Osito Bahian here early Sunday afternoon.
Brawner said Madlos, longtime spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao and spokesperson of the National Operational Command of the New People’s Army, was killed, along with another rebel in an encounter with the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion, the 1st Special Forces Battalion and a Scout Ranger company in Sitio Gabunan, Barangay Dumalaguing in Impasug-ong town in Bukidon province Saturday noon.
Late Sunday afternoon, the National Democratic Front’s North Eastern Midnanao Region (NDF-NEMR) confirmed Madlos was, indeed, killed by the military but claimed he and his medic were ambushed while on board a motorcycle Friday night as they headed towards the national highway from the poblacion of Impasug-ong town in Bukidnon.
The Public Affairs Office of the 4th Infantry Division described the 72-year old Madlos as “commander and spokesperson of the National Operations Command (NOC) of the New People’s Army nationwide, member, Central Committee – EXECOM/Politburo; Spokesperson of the National Democratic Front – Mindanao, and the husband of Myrna Sularte alias Maria Malaya, the Secretary of North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).” The other slain rebel was identified as Eighfel Dela Pena alias Pika/Maui, “Comms Staff and Medical Staff of the NOC.”
The NDF-NEMR statement confirming Madlos’ death was signed by “Ka Maria Malaya,” NDF-NEMR spokesperson and wife of Madlos.
In Surigao City, retired engineer Vicente Madlos, the rebel leader’s elder brother, said mid-afternoon Sunday that they were still “waiting for the official confirmation on the positive identity of my brother.”
Vicente told MindaNews in a telephone interview that one of their siblings will proceed to Bukidnon to identify, if, indeed the slain rebel is their brother and to undergo DNA testing. Jorge is 7th among nine siblings.
Brawner in the press conference said Madlos was positively identified by former rebels, but added they will still go for DNA testing and look into Madlos’ dental records.
Madlos had been reported killed by the military several times.
Brawner said soldiers found the bodies of Madlos and his medical aide in the forested encounter site in Sitio Gabunan at around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The military did not present the body of Madlos to reporters but showed reporters two photographs – both showing only the head part – the slain rebel being swabbed on the left nostril for RT-PCR testing to determine if he is COVID-19 positive or negative, and the other a closer look of a shaven face with a mole or birthmark on the right cheek, near the ear. Madlos always had a goatee.
There were no photographs of the slain rebels in the encounter site.
Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Barandon, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, could not provide information if the alleged cadaver of Madlos had a colostomy bag.
Barandon said he has to direct soldiers to check if the body had a colostomy bag.
Barandon said the RT-PCR swab test was necessary to ensure that the body was not COVID-19 positive.
He said most of the NPA they killed or arrested were suspected or infected with COVID-19.
He said the bodies would be brought down to Impasug-ong town to be turned over to the Philippine National Police.
“If they are found to be positive, they will be buried right there in the encounter site,” Barandon said.
Ambush, not encounter
The NDF-NEMR’s Malaya claimed her husband was on board a motorcycle with his female medic from the poblacion of Impasug-ong town in Bukidnon towards the national highway at around 8 p.m. on Friday, October 29 but they never reached the highway. It is believed, Malaya said, that on their way towards the highway, “they were ambushed and killed.”
“According to reports, there was no gunfight, there was no airstrike in the mountainous area of Impasug-ong, and most especially, there was no gunfight in the provincial highway during that time,” Malaya said.
Malaya alleged that the military “just waited by the provincial highway and attacked Ka Oris and his companion female medic who were on board a single motorcycle. There was no exchange of gunfire because Ka Oris was unarmed when he left the area for his regular medical check-up and treatment.”
Reacting to the NDF’s statement, Brawner told MindaNews: “It is not the AFP’s tactics to ambush unarmed combatants especially if they are on board a motorcycle. Also, on the allegation that there was no actual encounter, the people in the communities around can attest that they heard the sound of gunfire and the sound of airplanes and helicopters on October 30, 2021.” (Froilan Gallardo reports from Roel Catoto and Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)
Q and A with Jorge Madlos
1st of three parts: “This is where I am happy, this is where I belong”
2nd of three parts: “We were wrong in our political line”
Last of three parts: “We can stop them only to a certain degree”