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Army reminds Agusan residents of NPA’s ‘hideous’ practices

CONDOLENCES. Lt. Col. Francisco L. Molina, Jr., commander of the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion, extends his condolences to Erlinda Cabatchete (center) the mother of Bertoldo Cabatchete Jr. and Bertoldo’s brother Roberto (right) on Sunday (Dec. 29, 2019). Cabatchete died of pneumonia and was abandoned by his New People’s Army comrades in the hinterlands of Carranglan, Nueva Ecija last year. (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

NASIPIT, Agusan del Norte: An Army official reminded Agusan del Norte residents of the “ugly practices” of the New People’s Army (NPA) on their recruits, combatants, and communities.

Lt. Col. Francisco L. Molina, Jr., commander of Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB), recalled the instances in Caraga Region where the NPA abandoned their wounded and dead combatants after armed encounters, a practice that he said reflects the NPA’s disregard of human rights

Molina joined the family of Bertoldo Cabatchete Jr., a member of the NPA whose remains arrived home in Barangay Punta here on Sunday.

Cabatchete, fondly called “Junjun” by his kin and known as alias “LJ” in the NPA, died of pneumonia and was abandoned by his comrades in the hinterlands of Carranglan, Nueva Ecija last year — based on the accounts of a rebel returnee who knew Cabatchete.

The military exhumed Cabatchete’s remains sometime this month and had them airlifted on Sunday from Villamor Air Base to Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental.

“The NPA utilizes only those who are able. As long as their combatants are able-bodied and in good health, they are continually manipulated to carry out missions and tasks to destroy our government. But when they are already disabled, the NPA would eventually abandon them,” Molina said.

He added the case of Cabatchete was a classic example of the NPA’s mistreatment of its own combatants.

“According to those who surrendered and led the Army to LJ’s grave, he was abandoned by his comrades because he could no longer be utilized by the movement. He was given no medication and he eventually died, his dead body was wrapped with a sack and buried in a knee-deep grave,” Molina said.

He also recalled the case of Litboy Binungcasan, the 16-year-old NPA combatant killed last December 2 in an encounter in the hinterlands of Butuan City.

“The cases of Litboy and LJ are the same. Both their parents were not aware that they were recruited and eventually joined the NPA in fighting against the government. All their parents knew was that they were somewhere else working,” Molina said.

He added that during an encounter with government troopers in Santiago, Agusan del Norte on November 2, a 19-year-old NPA combatant was also wounded and abandoned by his comrades.

Molina said parents and communities must be made aware “of such dreadful practices of the NPA.”

“Parents must be aware of these to protect their children from being recruited by the NPA,” he added.

He said the 23IB is presently working with local government units, school officials, and other stakeholders in the area in an information drive to save the youth from the influence of the NPA.

(Alexander Lopez/PNA)

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