Top communist leader 'Ka Oris' killed in Bukidnon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 31) — Top-ranking communist leader Jorge Madlos, also known as Ka Oris, was killed in Bukidnon by state forces, both the military and the National Democratic Front-Northeast Mindanao confirmed on Sunday.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines reported that Ka Oris was one of the two casualties in the firefight between government troops and around 30 communist rebels in Barangay Dumalaguing in the town of Impasugong on Saturday.

Described by the AFP as the "top most wanted NPA commander in the country," Ka Oris was the commander and spokesperson of the National Operations Command of the New People's Army. He was also spokesperson of the NDF in Mindanao.

In a press briefing, the Philippine Army presented a photo of what it identified as the NPA leader's body. Through the photo, NPA members who were captured or who surrendered have positively identified that the body was that of Ka Oris, said Major General Romeo Brawner, Jr., the Army's 4th Infantry Division commander.

Brawner said they were in the process of acquiring DNA samples and dental records to ascertain the cadaver's identity.

"But as of now, we are very certain na ang namatay po, ang na-recover natin na cadaver [that the person killed, that the cadaver we recovered] is the cadaver of Ka Oris," he said.

"Ang pagkamatay po ni [The death of] Jorge Madlos, or Ka Oris, has been one of our missions for the past several years already, and finally, we have been able to neutralize Jorge Madlos," the army official added.

According to the AFP, Ka Oris was wanted for a number of criminal cases, including murder, multiple murders, and robbery related to the armed struggle.

Meanwhile, it identified the other casualty as Eighfel Dela Peña, alias Ka Pika or Ka Maui, a medical and communications staff of the NPA.

The military said none of its soldiers died or were wounded in the clash.

NDF: Claim of gunfight untrue

Ka Oris's wife and NDF-Northeast Mindanao spokesperson Myrna Sularte, also known as Maria Malaya, confirmed the deaths in a statement later in the day.

However, she refuted the government's claim that there was a gunfight.

Malaya said Ka Oris was onboard a motorcycle with Dela Peña on Friday evening on his way to get his regular medical check-up and treatment, when they were ambushed and killed. She said both were unarmed.

"Brawner is obviously ashamed to say that they (military) just waited by the provincial highway and attacked Ka Oris and his companion female medic who were onboard a single motorcycle," Malaya wrote.

"We challenge Brig. Gen. Brawner to reveal to the media and the public what really happened, to not be a big liar, for only then can he truly take pride in his achievement of killing Ka Oris," she continued.

Communist Party of the Philippines spokesperson Marco Valbuena said independent pathologists should perform an autopsy on the bodies to determine the actual circumstances of their killing.

"We support the wishes of the families to have the bodies of Ka Oris and Ka Pica be immediately released to them in order for them to conduct a proper wake and give all those who knew Ka Oris the opportunity to pay their last respects," he added.

The NPA leader's death is "a major blow" to the communist rebellion in Mindanao, the AFP said, adding it believes the fall "will usher in eventual peace in the region."

Brawner said the government will now go after Malaya, whom he also urged to surrender.