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Monday, April 15, 2024
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HomeDNX DefenseBroken homes and battle scars | Children of a forsaken war and...

Broken homes and battle scars | Children of a forsaken war and the spiral of abandonment, violence and death: A brief profile of Red terrorists slain in northern Negros battles

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IN A NUTSHELL

  • Camp Gerona identifies the dead rebels as Emaren Pastidio alias Jandie, Micheal Cabahug alias Micheal, and Jose Caramihan alias Jose – all armed regulars and remnants of the defunct Northern Negros Front
  • Two of the dead rebels were former child warriors armed by the NPA when they were minors
  • Jandy, the woman medic guerrilla, was a mother who left her baby in a hut in Talisay City during a gunbattle with soldiers in 2021
  • She was first captured in 2018 during a gunbattle in San Carlos City but was released for being a minor
  • Micheal, on the other hand, is one of four children of two fulltimers – alias JK and Lea – who abandoned them many years ago

BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – By the time she was 20, Emaren Pastidio alias Jandy, a guerrilla medic, was already a mother.

Almost.

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Had she not been sucked into a life of violence, lies, and killing.

Jandy, married to Ka Peta, also an armed regular, gave birth to but did not raise her baby.
Like most Filipino mothers do.

She left it, instead, in a hut in the mountains of Talisay City when she and guerrilas of the now defunct Northern Negros Front were running away from 79th Battalion soldiers who clashed with her unit in 2021.

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Three years later, just days ago, Jandy was dead and her baby had possibly grown into a child, cared for by her “enemy,” the Philippine government.

Like many women lured to answer the “dakilang hamon,” Jandy fought for a Party that she thought would make her immortal and conquer death through poems, dances and songs.

That and the promise of a brave new world made Jandy fight the “enemies,” soldiers of the Philippine Army to put ip a socialist society.

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But it was not to be.

Just days ago, these kaaway (enemies) carried her body down the mountains and those of two other Communists slain in battle.

They were left behind by their kaupod or comrades in a lonely upland village where even the people, whom Jandy thought loved and supported them, have grown tired of their empty talk and constantly forcing them to give food and money.

Battlefield accounts and photos show Jandy was found dead inside a nipa hut on a clearing far from the houses of villagers in the mountain community of Mansulao in Pinapugasan, a village in Escalante City where the Maoist rebels were once thought to have strongholds.

The two others were found in a field although it remains unclear if the three were killed by infantry rifle fire or by rockets and 50 caliber bullets from an attack helicopter sent in to provide close air support on the second day of fighting.

Military reports said locals led soldiers to the place where the three met death.

Former cadres told this reporter this was unlike the romantic Communist notion that the rebels were the fishes swimming among the masses as their ocean.

It was as if the ocean did not want the fishes anymore.

Like they were abandoned, a pattern repeating in the storirs of Jandy and Micheal.

Accounts from Army records and dispatches showed the Mansulao dead were once children recruited early into the underground and had close ties to the rebels.

Micheal’s parents, alias JK and Lea, both rebels, abandoned him and his three siblings many yesrs ago in Hilub-ang, a village in Calatrava town where they were first found by the 79th IB and the social welfare office.

Then, Micheal, the eldest of the brood, dreamt of having his family whole again and even sent his father a letter urging him to surrender, a part of which read:

“Pa, naa me ron, unta nakadungog mo, balik na unta mo, luoy kayo ako ang mga manghod, hinaot mo surrender na mo Pa, maskin in-ani nahitabo, palangga gyapon kamo namo, kami mag-igsuon, ikaw pud Ma, palangga ka namo, hinaot Pa mabalik na kamo sa sabakan sa gobyerno… “

(Pa, we are here. I hope you will listen. I pity my younger siblings. I hope you will surrender, Pa. Even if all these happened, we still love you two. You, too, Ma we still love you. Hopefully, Pa you will return to the folds of the law…)

But it was not to be.

When negotiations to have them transferred to a relative in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental fell through, the 79th lost contact with him.

His parents arranged for them to be transferred elsewhere and he was later seen with the rebels and was found once more by the 79th IB as one of the dead in Mansulao.

The poems have not yet been written, the songs have yet to be sung – unlike the tributes for ranking Communists who are instantly revered and made icons for more children to follow, for more fresh blood to be watered on the revolution of angry, old men who are mostly dead.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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