KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 9 July) – The three suspected New Peoples’ Army (NPA) rebels killed in a firefight with the military in Magpet, North Cotabato on Friday were already identified by their families and relatives, the Army said.
Lt. Col. Elrick Noel Paraso, commander of the 19th Infantry Battalion, said it took them at least three days to identify the slain rebels because it was only recently that their families and relatives knew of their situation.
The dead NPA guerillas were identified as Jonelle Entero, 27, and his brother Jowelle, 17; and Roland Tulay, 22, all residents of Tugbok District, Davao City.
Jelambelle Entero, 22, said they were informed of her brothers’ situation through some friends and neighbors from Tugbok district.
“We never thought they entered the NPA. Jonelle, my elder brother, worked in a factory here. He was a stay-in worker. My younger brother Jowelle was a typical happy-go-lucky person. He used to stay in his friends’ houses. But never did we imagine they would join the movement,” said Jelambelle.
Paraso said the Entero brothers and Tulay were among the more than 20 fully armed NPA rebels they encountered at Barangay Don Panaca, Magpet, around 6 a.m., on Friday.
The exchange of fire lasted an hour, he added.
Paraso’s men recovered the bodies of the slain NPA guerillas and an M16 Armalite rifle after the firefight.
Those that survived the armed encounter exited towards the southeast portion of Barangay Don Panaca, leaving their dead comrades behind, the colonel said.
Barangay Don Panaca is the last barangay of Magpet on its southeast portion. Next to it is a village in Tugbok District, which is located in Davao City.
“I was told friends from Tugbok district recruited my brothers to join the NPA guerilla movement. This was so sickening and disheartening. I know my brothers to be full of dreams and joining the movement was not one of their choices,” said Jelambelle.
Jelambelle and some of her relatives were interviewed by Kidapawan media inside the headquarters of the 19IB.
The Entero family brought the bodies of their slain relatives back to Tugbok district so they could give them decent burial.
The NPA Guerilla Front 53 based in North Cotabato has not yet issued any statement as to the encounter they had last week with the Army. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)