A young amazon, barely beyond her teens, lying face down in some rustic mountain lair is hardly the picture of a daughter a father would even imagine abandoned by her terrorist comrades to die.
I finally got a name. Jessica Clotario Altarejos, a 20-year old resident of Salvacion, Irosin, Sorsogon was a fresh recruit of a band of New Peoples’ Army.
At her tender age, it is ridiculous to even think that one who was quiet, good and obedient could have already been a communist ideologue. According to her father Jesus, had just finished her senior high school at Gallanosa National, dreaming to be an agriculturist striving to ease her family out of poverty.
Her fate demonstrates how flirting with danger could end up sacrificing even the simplest of ambitions when innocent youth carries an Armalite against a duly-established government.
Few neighbors even peeped at her wake to express sympathies, many still shocked at and in denial of the tragedy.
The soldiers were neither happy at the turnout of the bloody encounter, primed by concerned citizens telling on armed outsiders disturbing the relative peace of their community.
Another promising life fed to the lions of war.
Members of the Valor and the Kaagapay battalions of the Spear division, dug deep into their pockets to make sure that Jessica had a decent wake and burial and the family is left with some financial help to bridge their situation and move on.
Major General Henry A. Robinson Jr PA of the Joint Task Force Bicolandia once again admonished the communist terrorist who left Jessica dying on the ground to take advantage of the new beginnings being offered by the Balik-Loob program of the government so that they can already start pursuing normal lives and living peacefully and productively with their respective families.
Twist of fate
Halfway around the globe, a different thread begins with the 2012 killing of Tayvon Martin that birthed the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.
The case unraveled in an internet crowdsourcing link “Go Fund Me” featured in the Lifestyle section of GMA News Online. Born and raised in Oakland, California by his Filipino and South African parents, Amado Khaya Canham Rodriguez had some point in his childhood lived in both countries briefly, before moving to New Jersey, and then returning to the city of his birth, Oakland.
Studying in a California High School, Amado felt his status as a biracial Black student marginalize him. To vent his sentiment, he helped reactivate the Black Student Union in his campus, and after graduation got himself involved with the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Two years ago, at age 20, he moved to the Philippines “to live up to his name” according to his parents, who lionized him. “His Filipino name, ‘Amado’ means beloved, and his South African name, ‘Khaya’ means home. He literally built homes for the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. That was preceded by work of fighting to preserve affordable homes in (Oakland) his city of birth,” they said.
Last August 4, Amado was reported to have passed away from a sudden illness. Before that, he communicated with his parents, with some bitterness saying “if his death was compounded by Covid-19, it is because the Philippines — and even the United States, the country of his birth — has a health system that put profits over people.”
A “Go Fund Me” page was set up to support his family, so they can cover medical expenses, bring his remains home safely, and organize a memorial for him. The fundraising stopped at $39,221, according to GMA News Online.
The case of one Covid patient who was surreptitiously brought by a pastor of United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) to the District Hospital in San Jose Occidental Mindoro tripped alarm bells when his body mysteriously disappeared.
Known only as “Allen,” the disappearance even became more suspicious because he was a foreign national.
Moreover, the incident attracted attention because of increasing reports that many NPAs have contracted the virus, and a good number of them could be serving as possible carriers who could endanger the lives of indigenous peoples.
Southern Luzon Command chief, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr PA, told the press, “We don’t know how many more have died in the mountains or in remote clinics due to Covid-19 which may have been mishandled by health workers allied to the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front).
Even those who wish to lay down their arms among them cannot just be reintegrated immediately, and have to be quarantined, since many of them have already contracted the virus.
Parlade has requested the InterAgency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to investigate further.
The government’s emergency response necessitated the military airlifting a task force composed of DSWD, NCIP, DA, PHILHEALTH, DILG, DOH, and PNP led by the provincial officials of Occidental Mindoro to bring services to the isolated indigenous peoples (IP) in the hinterlands of Monte Claro, San Jose.
On top of their health issues, the task force was also to maximize the visitation to explore opportunities for sustained livelihood, economic and other community support programs appropriate to the respective IP culture.
Reds on the run
Dislocated, the regional party committee of the communist terrorist groups has been forced to find refuge in Mindoro as more and more of their former mass bases have been won by the national task force to end local communist armed conflict.
The Southern Luzon Command has been having a series of successful missions demolishing the regional operations of the New Peoples’ Army, when eleven IPs surrendered following the killing of communist terrorist Lorrelaine Saligumba alias Fara in Baco, Oriental Mindoro last June 2020.
Saligumba was one of 43 “health workers” tagged by the government as communist rebels and sympathizers in 2010 but were released upon the orders of former President BS Aquino on the behest of then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Commissioner on Human Rights Etta Rosales.
The IPs disclosed that many of their people were being forced to join the terrorists after being used as human shields and assigned to fetch water or carry their loads of supplies and goods.
Most of the victims were minors. “This is not acceptable,” said Lt. General Parlade Jr. “I cannot allow these violations of the International Humanitarian Law by the leadership of the CPP-NPA-NDF Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC).
Parlade added, “We will not allow the STRPC to be able to establish a new HQ in Mindoro, much less allow them to get away from the island to seek refuge elsewhere. The only way for them is to accept our offer for their peaceful return to the folds of the law.”
The government harvest continues — two members of the terrorist Special Operations Group in Mindoro and six members of their Main Regional Guerilla Unit in Laguna and Quezon have already surrendered.
Last August 7, another big catch, Mario Caraig alias Jethro, secretary of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee’s SRMA 4C was killed after an encounter against combined AFP-PNP forces in Kalayaan, Laguna.
That was only three days after government security forces neutralized three NPAs including the platoon leader of the Main Regional Guerilla Unit of the NPA of Southern Tagalog whom former rebels positively identified as Dioscorro Celio alias Termo.
Allen’s true identity
Cunning efforts to cover up the true identity of the missing dead Covid patient proved futile.
Solcom chief Parlade, Jr. positively exposed that “alias Allen” in question, is known to be involved with New People’s Army terrorists in Mauban, Quezon and whose real identity is Amado Khaya Cannham Rodriquez.
He added that Amado is a leader of the “Main Regional Guerilla Unit” (MRGU) of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC).
“He is not an activist, as GMA News Online claims, but an NPA terrorist and was part of the NPAs who were deployed to Mindoro to set up their new regional headquarters,” Parlade said.
Various testimonies from some of Amado’s former students at the Special Operations Group corroborated Parlade’s statement. These students and former rebels who knew him personally, voluntarily surrendered to the Army’s 203rd Infantry Brigade.
A former platoon leader of MRGU who identified himself under the aliases “Nad” and “Berting,” said he met “Allen” in July 2018 and had exposure training with them in Sta. Catalina, Mauban, Quezon. He also remembered the Filipino-American as always carrying an AK-47 automatic rifle and had a relationship with a certain “Ka Ella” in the NPA movement.”
Alias Allen” transferred to Mindoro in November 2018, after undergoing treatment for a heart ailment in Metro Manila, while Nad returned to the fold of the law in March of this year.
Meanwhile, a certain “Raffy” remembered “Allen” as his instructor at SOG. He added that the black man taught him and his companions tactics on how to kill two separate opponents. Raffy, formerly of the NPA’s S4, VIL, IL(SRMA 4E), VIL RSOG, PSRL in KLG North, SRMA 4E Palawan, surrendered to authorities last May.
“Alias Dan” from the NPA’s “KLG ICM” in Mindoro remembers meeting with Allen sometimes “Alias Glenn” in November of 2019 in Laguna. He added that both of them were sent to Mindoro after each of them were given an M-16 automatic rifle.
Dan reported to an “Alias Ida” of KLG ICM while Allen was deployed to NPA’s “RCID MRGU/Platoon JB”. Dan surrendered last June.
Without any spec of doubt, Amado Cannham Rodriguez, is an NPA hiding the alias “Allen” who before his death due to Covid, was definitely armed and dangerous.
These would have passed as yet another sad reversal in a life of a pretty lass in Sorsogon province age 20 and a passionate balikbayan from Oakland, California, age 22.
Tell me, what could have saved these young lives from being senselessly fed to the lions of war?