Another NPA bandit who claims to be an ordinary 'health worker' lay dead after engaging Army soldiers in a firefight in Bgy Kabayunan, Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan on August 9, 2013 .
Ramon dela Cruz, also known in the NPA circles as Ka Mandy, was among those arrested while undergoing medical seminar in Morong town, Rizal in 2010.
Dela Cruz and his comrades engaged the combined elements of the 48th Infantry Battalion and the local police in a firefight. The security forces were sent to arrest them based on the complaint of extortion from a civilian resident of said village.
Two other NPA bandits were killed during the said firefight that lasted about an hour. They were only identified by their aliases, Ka Eldy and Ka Robin.
The cadaver of Dela Cruz was claimed by his parents who were identified as Ramon dela Cruz and Rosita, both residents of Namayan village in Malolos, Rizal.
The two unidentified fatalities were turned over to PNP-DRT for proper disposition.
The tale of the 'Morong 43'
It can be recalled that forty three alleged NPA bandits were arrested in a law enforcement operation carried out by PNP Rizal and the Army on February 6, 2010.
The security forces seized unlicensed firearms and explosives from the group.
They were initially detained at an Army detention facility in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal right after their arrest.
Self-proclaimed human rights advocates claimed that all of the arrested personalities were ordinary health workers.
Five of the arrested personalities admitted their membership to the banned communist armed group, the New People's Army. They were later known publicly as the 'Morong 5'.
Three of them promptly denied reports that they were tortured by the arresting officers. Cherelyn Tawagon, Eleonor Carandang and Valentino Paulino all claimed in a TV interview that they were indeed members of the New People's Army like the others.
Carandang said that they were undergoing medical training to serve as 'combat medics' of the NPA. Among their training instructions was how to treat bullet sustained injuries.
Paulino said that he joined the communist movement in 2003 and that he had killed 3 people in previous firefights that he was involved in.
For her part, Tawagon said that the soldiers are in fact treating them well while in detention. She said that they were indeed handcuffed but denied being blindfolded for 36 hours as claimed by KARAPATAN.
Inspector Rex Cuntapay positively identified two NPA members Linda Otañez and Pearl Irene Martinez as among the bandits who held him captive for 83 days after a deadly ambush in January 3, 2009 in Rodriguez town Rizal.
Meanwhile, the policemen who were detailed in the municipal police station in San Narciso town, Quezon pinpointed the NPA bandits who were among those who posed as journalists in a raid of their outpost in December 2009.
The policemen clearly identified Mark Escartin, Linda Otanez, Aldrin Garcia, Edwin Detera, Antonio de Dios, and Reynaldo Macabenta as the ones who presented themselves as members of the media before poking their guns on them.
The 38 people who were part of the so called 'Morong 43' were later released by the government as among the confidence building measures in the advent of the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
A senior military official who was involved in the arrest of the 'Morong 43' said that he was saddened by the death of Dela Cruz.
He said that the latter initially expressed his intention to avail of the Social Integration Program of the government but was forced by his handlers to go back to the armed group.
"If he followed the path of the 'Morong 5', he should be alive by now. I hope that the other 'health workers' who are now back in the armed bandit group will realize the futility of their cause. It is not too late for them," he said in condition of anonymity.
To see the feature stories about the 'Morong 5', please click the following links: