CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur – “This is my son”, said Consuelo C Pongan, 60 years old, as tears rolled in her eyes upon seeing the set of skeletal remains that was presented to her and her family by Army soldiers of the 83rd Infantry Battalion yesterday.
“It is still very vivid in my mind that this was exactly the t-shirt and the necklace he was wearing when he was forcibly dragged by NPA rebels at our house in 2007”, she added.
Yesterday (February 24) at around 0930 in the morning, a group of soldiers from the 83rd Infantry Battalion exhumed the skeletal remains of a NPA murder victim later identified as Joel C Pongan in a shallow grave site at Sitio Ikanbayong, Brgy Maysuram of Caramoran town of the island province of Catanduanes.
Acting on a revelation of a former NPA rebel regarding NPA murder victim years back, Army Sergeant Romel Brillante and his squad proceeded to the gravesite to dig for the remains. “Naniniwala ako na may pamilya din ang biktima na nag aantay sa kanya para umuwi o makita man lamang ang kanyang katawan kung sya ay patay na”, said Sgt Brillante.”Kaya sinikap naming mahanap ito para mabigyan ng hustisya ang biktima”, he added.
According to the mother of the victim, Joel was last seen on June 25, 2007 when four armed (4) NPA rebels forcibly dragged his son at their residence at Brgy Maysuram of Caramoran while he was off from work. She said that her son was a former rebel who decided to leave the underground movement and go back to the stream of the society. When his surrender was recognized by the government, he joined the CAFGU.
“So many false hopes and promises, this was what my son was telling me why he left the rebel movement”, said the mother.
“We will assist the family in the filing of charges against the NPA rebels”, said Ltc Rod Batang, Commanding Officer of the 83rd Infantry Battalion stationed in San Andres, Catanduanes. .
The skeletal remains was turned over to the Caramoran Municipal Police Station for documentation and for proper filing of charges.
On February 19, 2012, the body of Onesto Ojas Jr, A NPA murder victim, was exhumed in Brgy Calabasa, Labo in Camarines Norte after concerned residence revealed the information to the 49th Infantry Battalion.
“The 9th ID believes that there are more murder victims of the NPA not yet reported to the proper authorities here in Bicol. Joel Pongan and Onesto Ojas Jr are just a few of them”, said Major Angelo S Guzman, 9ID spokesperson.