SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 November) — Fear of getting red-tagged may have been the reason why only a few came to the wake and the interment of the cremated remains of Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos on Saturday afternoon.
“People are probably scared,” his brothers Vicente and Rito said.
“Some friends who knew Ka Oris better than we do have opted to stay home. These days are difficult times, knowing people get easily red-tagged without due process. They are probably afraid, knowing the stature of Ka Oris in the revolutionary movement,” said Dr. Fernando Almeda Jr., a retired port manager and president of Surigaonon Heritage Center.
Almeda, a longtime friend of the slain rebel leader, was among the few who attended the burial rites at the Surigao City Memorial Park on Saturday.
Almeda recalled the slain rebel leader paid him a surprise visit a few years ago and gave him a communist signature cap for souvenir. Almeda plans to exhibit Madlos’ Mao cap in his museum.
Another friend of Madlos, retired public school teacher Fredeswinda Chua-Espejon, said the fallen guerilla will be truly missed.
Espejon and Madlos were among those arrested in Surigao during the crackdown by the military on young activists in the 1970’s.
“We were detained at the barracks but Jorge stayed longer and suffered and endured torture in the hands of our captors,” she said.
Parago and Roger
Thousands marched during the funeral in Davao City of Leoncio Pitao aka Ka Parago in July 2015. A similar situation happened in Batangas in 2016 during the interment of the remains of Gregorio Rosal aka Ka Roger who died of heart failure in 2011 in a guerilla zone, and his wife Rosalia Dumanlas aka Ka Sol who was killed in an encounter in 2011. .
Only a few came to attend the wake and the interment rites of Madlos who was killed in Impasug-ong Bukidnon in what the military claimed to be an encounter on October 30 but which the New Peoples’ Army claimed was an ambush on October 29.
Only a few reporters came to cover.
“Gamay ra lagi ni attend no” (Only a few attended). Why si that?” Bombo Radyo-Butuan reporter Kevin Linaac asked.
“They are afraid of getting red-tagged,” another reporter replied.
The same question was raised by a reporter from Manila who was assigned to cover Ka Oris’ wake and interment.
“Ka Oris is very popular but only few people came here during the wake,” she said.
“Either safety against COVID-19 or safety against getting red-tagged,” Linaac said.
“We should not be afraid because we are doing our job and we are not with the rebels … we are just a messenger,” he said.
Madlos’ eldest brother, Vicente, said there were “no speeches coming from any cause-oriented groups or any representation from Ka Oris group. The burial was ordinary.”
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a statement dated November 18 and signed by Marco Valbuena, chief information officer, praised Madlos as a hero.
“In honor of former New People’s Army commander and spokesperson Ka Oris (Jorge Madlos), the Party calls on all revolutionaries, patriots and democrats to dedicate a minute of silence at high noon of November 20, Saturday, the day that his ashes will be interred,” Valbuena said.
“The flags of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army will be unfurled and raised, as all Party cadres and Red fighters of the NPA stand in attention to salute Ka Oris and vow to always keep his memory alive,” he said,
“Long live Ka Oris, hero and martyr of the Filipino people! Long live Ka Oris, the modern day Andres Bonifacio! Let the memory of Ka Oris live forever,” Balbuena added.
Madlos’ wife, Ka Maria Malaya, said her husband “died a hero’s death and for sure history will judge him as one, if not the greatest, among Surigaonons. Masses, and friends alike feel proud of him and what he has contributed to the national democratic revolution. He inspired by example and will inspire thousands more to tread the path of the people’s revolution. His memory and the lessons he imparted will remain and would help spur the victory of the people’s war. For us he left behind, in the words of Ka Oris, ‘We will persevere for our cause is just,’” she said. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)