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6 of Morong 43 rejoin the Philippine rebels

Six of the so-called Morong 43 have rejoined the armed struggle and have linked up with their Southern Tagalog-based comrades, a senior military commander said Thursday.
Col. Ivan Samarita, commander of the Philippine Army's 202nd Infantry Brigade, said the six members of the so-called Morong 43 are now the subject of an ongoing military operations in Southern Tagalog.

Samarita identified them as Janice Javier, Franco Remoroso, Yolanda Macaraig, Myrna Olarte, Romeo dela Cruz and Pearl Irene Martines.

"They are saying they are not NPAs, so this proves they are NPAs. " Samarita said, adding the military is determined to account the six to prove once and for all that government authorities are right all along in its findings that the "Morong 43" are active NPA members.

Citing intelligence monitoring reports, Samarita said that the six are now armed and are serving as medical staff member of the New People's Army (NPA) in Southern Tagalog.

He said that Javier, Remoroso and Macaraeg are now active NPA members based in Batangas province while Olarte, Dela Cruz and Martinez are regular paramedics for an NPA unit based in Rizal province.

The six were among the 43 people arrested in a joint military and police operation in Morong town, Rizal province in February 2010. The military claimed that its operatives seized several pieces of explosive devices during the operation.

The military also claimed that the 43 were engaged in a bomb-making training in a resort house in Morong town when the operation was conducted.

There were reports that several heavily armed men were able to slip at the back of the resort when Army and police troops stormed the place.

Authorities monitored the area based on reports that medical teams of the NPA in the entire Luzon will be gathering in Rizal province for a training in line with their pre-planned operations during the May 2010 national elections.

During detention, five of the so-called Morong 43 later confessed and executed affidavits that they are active NPA members at the time of their arrest. The five are now under the protective custody of the military.

Minus the five, the rest of the 38 suspected rebels were charged before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Cause-oriented groups including the entire leadership of the Communist of the Philippines (CPP) denounced the arrest and demanded their immediate release, while saying the five now under government custody were only forced to confess.

In line with the government peace initiatives with the communist, the DOJ ordered the dropping of charges against the detained suspected NPA paramedics in December of 2010. This was followed by their release.

"It's really a political decision that all of us in the Armed Forces will have to abide because we are also sincere in talking peace with them," Samarita said.

Insofar as the counter-charges filed by the suspected NPA rebels against the police and Army troops behind the Morong operations, Samarita said the military welcomes this move.

"It's a good move on our part because with this we can prove before the court that they are indeed NPA rebels," Samarita said.

Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali, Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) commander, said he doubts that the so-called Morong 43 will pursue the case. He believes that the filing of the case is only part of the group's propaganda against the police and the military.

"They are using this as a propaganda against the government," Detabali said.