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Former UPLB student dies in firefight with govt troops

November 22, 2023

Brigadier General Randolph Cabangbang, commander of the Army’s 203rd Infantry Brigade, on Wednesday (Nov. 22, 2023) said a former student from a prominent university who joined the New People’s Army (NPA) perished in a recent firefight with government troops in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro.

Earlier, a national broadsheet cited a police report about the death of two rebels identified only as Rochie and Bondo.

“One student from the UPLB (University of the Philippines Los Baños) died last week in one of our combat operations. He is Jethro Isaac Ferrer a.k.a. Bondo, a member of the LGBTQ community,” Cabangbang told the media during a virtual press conference hosted by the Integrated Communications Operations Center (ICOC), the media bureau of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Ferrer was a native of Pangasinan; his body was already claimed by his parents for proper burial.

According to Cabangbang, Bondo left a partner who is also a UPLB student in the NPA organization.

Cabangbang identified Ferrer’s partner as Yvann Zuñiga a.k.a Paolo.

“Based on our information, they’re both members of the LGBTQ and they got married in the organization,” he said.

The General specifically calls on Zuñiga to leave the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) for the sake of his safety and brighter future, return to the fold of the law, and start a brand new life.

He rued the death of Ferrer to what he calls the insensitivity of responsible school officials for allowing legal fronts to infiltrate them and took away the future of their students for naught.

“You’re the cause (of all these deaths). Somebody should take responsibility,” Cabangbang said, also partly blaming parents for doing nothing to prevent their children from being radicalized and then ending up in the mountains only to die in a senseless and obsolete protracted war.

“But not all parents are to blame for their children’s misguided path,” he said.

In other recent encounters, Cabangbang said a certain Jessie Almoguera was killed in combat. His family was informed about his demise.

“Pumunta rito sa kampo ang nanay at kapatid niya. Nung makita at matiyak ang bangkay, sinabi lang na bahala na kayo magpalibing. Hindi nila iniuwi. Sabi nila, matagal na nilang kinukumbinsi si Jessie na umalis sa NPA pero di nakikinig. Sabi pa nila, may kayabangan din daw talaga,” he said.

Cabangbang also shared the case of NPA Vice Commander Ka Adrian who was rescued by soldiers ten days after he was badly wounded in a previous firefight.

“He is now recuperating there at V. Luna,” referring to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC) located in Quezon City.

“Ka Adrian suffered a broken jaw, hindi siya makapagsalita at makakain. Noong makita siya ng ating mga sundalo, naglalakad. May isinulat sa papel na pangalan ng kanyang anak at address. Ang sabi 'bahala na kayo sa kanya’, dahil ang akala niya ay papatayin siya. Hindi, dinala siya ng ating mga sundalo sa kampo at dinala natin siya sa V. Luna. Mga sundalo natin ang nagpapalit ngayon ng kanyang diaper,” he added.

In a separate webinar conducted by the Samar-based 802nd Infantry Brigade in collaboration with ICOC, National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman Undersecretary Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema has proposed the revival of the Citizens Army Training (CAT) in high school for nation-building.

Cardema is an avid supporter of the reimplementation of the Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC).

“Ibalik natin at gawing mandatory ang CAT, pati Boy at Girl Scouts gawin ding mandatory to build up nationalism and nation building (among Filipino youth),” Cardema said during a webinar on “Youth Transformation & Leadership”.

CAT was a program of the Philippine Army implemented in the late 1970s for both public and private schools at the secondary level.

Apparently, Cardema is proposing the revival of CAT owing to the continuing recruitment activities of CTGs to as young as high school students to join the NPA.

He said this radicalization playbook of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) destroyed not only the right to education of every Filipino student but also denied them a bright future with their families.

“What is revolting is that these CPP-NPA-NDF recruiters, these legal front organizations, have radicalized our young students to embrace the armed struggle, wage a violent overthrow of our government,” Cardema said in Tagalog.

As part of NYC’s program to counter youth and student radicalization by the CTGs, Cardema said they will be launching in the coming days the “National Youth Convention” at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City.

“This will be a big event for our youth and we’re expecting thousands of newly elected Sangguniang Kabataan officials to participate. We also involve the PMA cadets and many more organizations from national and local like the NTF-ELCAC and its partners at the local level,” he said,

Cardema said NYC is facing an uphill battle to fight radicalization in high schools, colleges, universities, and vulnerable communities across the country.

“We’ve to push back harder despite our meager budget. Hopefully, we will be able to mobilize the more than 400,000 newly elected SK officials to take the cudgels of fighting all kinds of recruitment by the CTGs. It’s not enough o say “ang kabataan ay pagasa ng bayan”, it doesn’t end there, actually. We’ve to teach and motivate our youth to fight the CPP-NPA-NDF,” he said.

At the same webinar, Cardema said her sister, Duterte Youth Partylist Representative Dixie Mae Cardema, has prepared a bill that would penalize recruiters and those who are financially aiding the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“If this bill is approved by Congress and becomes law, school administrators, teachers and even elected government officials recruiting and financially aiding the cause of the CPP-NPA-NDF would be penalized,” he said.

Cardema vowed to heighten the efforts of NYC’s campaign to help the government de-radicalize some colleges and universities to prevent CTG recruitments and thus prevent students from joining the NPA.

“We will not allow these CTGs to replenish the NPA in the countryside. From 89 guerrilla fronts, there are only 13 at present. Of the number, 12 are weakened, and only 1 active remaining. Let’s help our AFP and PNP do our share to ultimately eliminate the CPP-NP-NDF,” he said.

Meanwhile, NPA rebel-turned-Army Private Rey Christian Sabado has supported all the programs of the NYC which is to conduct intensified de-radicalization of infiltrated schools across the country.

“Itong mga programang ito ay naglalayon na magkaroon ng linaw sa ating mga kabataan kung ano ‘yung mga dapat at hindi dapat gawin ng mga kapwa nating kabataan,” he said, adding all recruitments in schools are being done by legal front organizations.

“Itong ginagawa naming series of activities sa webinar…ay in relation sa ginagawa po nating pag-alala kay Andres Bonifacio, isa sa bayani ng ating bansa. Pero of course, ginagawa din natin ito para ikondena ‘ yung darating na anibersaryo ng KM at Anakbayan sa November 30, 2023.” he said. ###


Ref: Joel M. Sy Egco


November 22, 2023



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