By Francis Wakefield
The commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Eastern Mindanao Command (AFP-EastMinCom) expressed sadness and condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) for their continued use of minors in their armed struggle.
In a statement, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said its sad to note that despite the worldwide call to spare children in armed struggle, the NPA terrorists continued to arm and use them.
“We condemn this practice in strongest term and challenge the NPA terrorists to spare them. Let children be children, and allow them to play, learn, enjoy and experience the beauty of being a child and spare them from indoctrinating hatred and violence,” Madrigal said.
Madrigal made the comment as authorities have already established the identity of the body of a young man who was killed during an encounter in Barangay Astorga, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur on Saturday.
The identification process was made by the Philippine National Police-Scene of the Crime Operatives (PNP-SOCO), Municipal Social Welfare Office of Sta. Cruz, Davao Del Sur, and the military.
According to the report made by Lt. Col. Rhojun Rosales, commander of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion, the fatality was identified as 15-year-old Rondi Ondo, from Sitio Tombo, Barangay Old Bulatukan, Makilala, North Cotabato.
He was identified by his mother Marissa A. Ondo at a Funeral Parlor in Sta. Cruz, Davao Del Sur during a public identification.
Ondo’s cadaver was recovered after the encounter with an M16 rifle and clad in black NPA uniform.
Meanwhile, Rosales facilitated the transportation of the body of Ondo and the communist leader identified as Julito Pueblas alias Taghoy, 62, from Sitio Pangayasan, Brgy. Kisante to their respective families and barangay officials of Kisante and Old Bulatukan, respectively, on April 22.
On the other hand, Jessa Lumana who was seized in the encounter site was already detained at Sta. Cruz Municipal Police Station to face criminal charges.