SAN AGUSTIN, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/28 December) — Frail and now in his sixties, Jorge Madlos has emerged as the new face of the communist-led armed movement in the Philippines following the extended absence of the popular Gregorio Rosal, aka Ka Roger.
Madlos recently met with close to 100 Philippine and foreign journalists on the occasion of the 42nd founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a farming village in this town.
He has been a household name among journalists covering the communist insurgency in Mindanao since the late ’90s.
Born and raised in Mindanao (he hails from the world-famous Siargao Islands off Surigao del Norte), Madlos was already a student activist even before Martial Law was declared in 1972 and was a product of the historic First Quarter Storm, albeit in Mindanao.
When then President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, he and dozens of activist in the island went underground and started organizing peasants in the countryside with only the seminal book Philippine Society and Revolution authored by Jose Maria Sison as ideological and organizational guide.
More than a decade later, almost half of the total armed strength of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP, was already found in Mindanao.
A grizzled veteran of the communist underground movement, his work as fulltime cadre of the CPP was interrupted only when he was captured by government forces in mid ’80s.
Following his release from detention, Madlos rejoined his comrades even though he was then suffering from renal illness.
To this day, he said he still wears a catheter to ease pain when relieving himself.
Believed to be a member of the Mindanao Commission of the CPP, Madlos was mentioned by National Democratic Front chief peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni as among the local communists who can speak for the underground movement.
Jalandoni mentioned Madlos as one source of information on the NDF after reporters asked him of the whereabouts of former NPA spokesperson Ka Roger who is reportedly ill but still active in the underground movement.
Madlos however paid tribute to Ka Roger whom the military believed may already be dead.
Madlos said the NPA had its shining moments during the stint of Rosal as rebel spokesperson.
Officially still the spokesperson of the NDF in Mindanao, Madlos is one of less than five pre-Martial Law Mindanao-born activists who are still active in the communist underground movement. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com)