Slain student leader laid to rest

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /14 Nov) – The 23-year old former chair of the University Student Council of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao who was killed November 4 in an encounter between the military and New People’s Army (NPA) in Maasim, Sarangani, was laid to rest shortly before 2 p.m. Friday at the Forest Lake memorial park in Ma-a.

A funeral march from the Ascension of the Lord Parish in GSIS Heights Subdivision, where a mass was held at 10 a.m., accompanied Rendell Ryan E. Cagula — RR to his family, Perper to high school and college classmates, Kasamang Lucas and Kaubang Pipo to the NPA and the communities he served — to his final resting place three kilometers away.

FLOWERS FOR PERPER. A friend tosses flowers on the casket of student leader Rendell Ryan Cagula at the Forest Lake memorial park in Ma-a, Davao City  on November 14, 2014. Cagula was killed in an encounter between the military and the New People's Army in Maasim, Sarangani province last November 4, 2014. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
FLOWERS FOR PERPER. A friend tosses flowers on the casket of student leader Rendell Ryan Cagula at the Forest Lake memorial park in Ma-a, Davao City on November 14, 2014. Cagula was killed in an encounter between the military and the New People’s Army in Maasim, Sarangani province last November 4, 2014. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Cagula, a senior BA Anthropology student with only six units left to finish the course, was University Student Council chair from 2011 to 2012, former Davao coordinator of the League of Filipino Students and regional coordinator of Kabataan Partylist.

Military reports identified him as one of three “NPA bandits killed in Sarangani encounter” between elements of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion and the NPA at around 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, November 4, in Sitio Tubac, Barangay Nomoh, Maasim town.

His father, Joy, had earlier told MindaNews that when RR left home in December last year, his son told them he was going to finish his thesis.

His son did not come home for Christmas and New Year and resumed communications with them only in February, via mobile phone but would not tell them where he was.

Cagula’s mother Marina told MindaNews Sunday night that she did not know if, indeed, her son, was a member of the NPA, as claimed by the military. “Nagtudlo man daw to siya’g mga Lumad” (He said he was teaching Indigenous Peoples), she said.

Joy told MindaNews that he repeatedly asked his son to return home but RR would tell him he was “happy there” and had found his calling there.

After the mass, Joy thanked those who came to condole with them, particularly citing the farmers and indigenous people from other provinces whom his son served  and who traveled for several hours to send him off.   “Proud kaayo mi sa imo, Anak,” (We are so proud of you, son),  he said.

Addressing the crowd that gathered at the memorial park, Joy said those who do not know his son may not understand why RR made that choice.

Stood for, died for

“He stood for a cause he believed in. If he felt strongly about something, you cannot dissuade him,” Joy said in Cebuano.

Cagula’s casket was brought to the atrium in UP Thursday night for a tribute.

Joy, a retired geologic aide from the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau had tried to convince his son to take up Geology but even before he finished high school, his RR had wanted to take up Anthropology at UP-Mindanao.

At the memorial park, Joy said his family and those who came to the funeral share the same feeling of loss that his eldest of two sons, whom he described as a “principled man who only wanted the best for all,” died young.

But he said there should be no regrets because “daghan man pud siya nabuhat nga kadaugan para niya” (because he succeeded in doing much).

Statements from the NPA’s Fronts 72 and 73, the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, among others, were read, giving Cagula’s family glimpses of his life in the 11 months he was away from home, and how well loved he was by the communities he served.

Cagula had promised his mother on the phone that he would be home in December. “Ingon siya, ‘promise gyud nako Ma, magkita gyud ta karong December. Sure gyud na, Ma’” (He told me, ‘I promise you, Ma, we’ll see each other in December. For sure, Ma.’’’).

A red CPP flag was draped on the lower half of Cagula’s white casket before the traditional last viewing.

Friends sang the Filipino version of “Internationale” as his casket was lowered, the wreaths of the CPP and Kabataang Makabayan (KM), as well as his fraternity, Pi Sigma, neatly arranged before the concrete burial vault was sealed.

Surveillance

Four soldiers in camouflage uniform were apparently monitoring the rites from an unfinished mausoleum about 150 meters away but left before the burial itself.

Earlier, outside the church in GSIS, at least five Army soldiers in camouflage uniform waited two short blocks away on Libra St., along the route of the funeral cortege and the marchers carrying floral wreaths fashioned into the logo of the CPP and KM.

Soldiers station themselves a few meters  away from the marchers along Libra Street in GSIS Subdivision. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
Soldiers station themselves a few meters away from the marchers along Libra Street in GSIS Subdivision. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The team leader, a Master Sergeant who declined to identify himself but said they were from the 10th Infantry Division, told MindaNews they were there to “show support,” “show our sympathy to the family.”

The team leader’s name tag was partly covered with the strap of a sling bag. which he declined to move so his family name could be read. The partly covered name tag starts with “BO” and ends with “O.”

The team left on board a blue Isuzu Elf with a private plate number, YEW 188 in front and no plate number at the rear, just as the marchers, at least a hundred of them, began their three-kilometer walk to the memorial park, passing the national highway in Matina. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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