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Davao City, Philippines

Activist and teacher Luque among those killed in encounter: military

May 22, 2020 - Friday 6:05 PM by Ruth Palo

Article Banner Image Manobo residents recently fled their homes in sitios Simowao and Emerald in Diatagon, Lianga town in Surigao del Sur for fear of getting caught in the crossfire between government forces and the New People’s Army . CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

DAVAO CITY — The military on Friday said Alvin Luque, a former student activist and teacher in this city who later joined the New People’s Army (NPA), was among those “fatally wounded” in a series of encounters with government troops in Andap Valley, Surigao del Sur on May 14 to 19, 2020.

In an interview with the Mirror on Friday, Philippine Army 4th Infantry Division (ID) commander Major General Franco Gacal said Luque, who was also known as Joaquin Jacinto and was the spokesperson of Komisyon Mindanao (KOMMID), was among more than a hundred armed members of the NPA’s North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) attending a meeting in the area.

He said 20 NPA top leaders, including the committee’s front secretaries and their spokespersons, were also attending the meeting.

Gacal said these NPA leaders and members were meeting to plan to disrupt government efforts in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, taking advantage of the outbreak as security forces are focusing on mitigating the effects of the virus.

“Meron silang ginagawang assessment meeting, nagpla-plano to conduct tactical offensive against our soldiers, against our government units especially sa mga COVID-19 checkpoints,” Gacal said.

(They were doing an assessment meeting, planning to conduct tactical offensives against our soldiers, against our government units especially in the COVID-19 checkpoints.)

He said the Army also strongly believes NEMRC secretary Myrna Sularte, alias Maria Malaya, was also wounded in the clash with the government troops.

Gacal, however, admitted they have not recovered the bodies of the two leaders to prove they had indeed died in the encounters.

“Naniniwala kami na 95 percent nadale namin ‘yung dalawa,” he said.

(We have 95 percent certainty that we got the two.)

He said two laptop computers and one projector recovered in the encounter site were believed to be owned and used by Sularte and Luque, an indication they were in the area. 

“Our search and retrieval operations are still ongoing because we believe that they were among the casualties,” he said.

Gacal said the series of clashes resulted in the deaths of 11 NPA members and the recovery of several high-powered firearms and war materials.

However, due to the rugged and mountainous terrain of the encounter sites aggravated by unpredictable weather, soldiers experienced difficulties in the retrieval of the bodies.

Luque, formerly a teacher of Assumption College of Davao and a student of Ateneo de Davao University, was also a prominent leader of various left-leaning groups in Davao City before becoming an NPA member.

He disappeared from public view before surfacing in December 2016 during the anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.