Family awaits remains of NPA rebel who died in Luzon

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PUNTA, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte – Family members of Bertoldo Cabatcheto, Jr. or Junjun gathered for early morning chores on Saturday, December 28 in preparation for the arrival of his remains from Manila.

Junjun’s remains were exhumed by government forces this month when a former rebel, who previously surrendered last November, revealed to authorities his shallow grave in Carangalan, Nueva Ecija.

The former rebel, whose identity is kept for security reasons, said Junjun’s alias in the New People’s Army (NPA) in Luzon was “LJ”.

Junjun or “LJ” suffered pneumonia and when his body turned too weak, he was eventually abandoned by his comrades until he died in the latter part of 2018, the former rebel declared.

The remains of Junjun were airlifted from Villamor Airbase to Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental on Saturday, December 28 and will be transported by land to his home in Barangay Punta, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte.

Junjun is the youngest of the nine children of Erlinda Limit Cabatchete, a widower.

When Junjun was still two years old, Erlinda went to Manila to find some household jobs where she met her second husband Buenaventura Aguilar.

“This child was left under the care of his father when Erlinda left and then transferred to me when his father died,” said Teodora Limit Laurente, Erlinda’s sister.

Teodora said Junjun only managed to finish Grade 4.

“He refused to go to school. He wanted to be with his brothers and cousins working in construction sites,” she added.

ANCESTRAL HOME. The photo shows the house where Bertoldo Cabatchete, Jr. or Junjun or Alias “LJ” grew up in Barangay Punta, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte. Beside the curtained wall earlier prepared by family members is where the remains of Junjun or Alias “LJ” will lie in the wake for days. (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

Offered with high salary

Roberto Cabatchete recounted the last time he saw his brother when they met in Antipolo, Rizal in the middle of 2018.

“I convinced him to go home with me in Agusan after my contract is completed,” Roberto told Philippine News Agency on Saturday (December 28).

Roberto was working in a subdivision under construction in Cainta. He said Junjun stayed with him in a boarding house located at the back of a cement factory in Antipolo where his younger brother worked as a ground sweeper.

Junjun refused, Roberto quipped, saying that someone is recruiting him for work somewhere in Cabanatuan City with a huge salary.

Roberto and his wife Natividad left Antipolo sometime in September of 2018. They heard nothing about Junjun since they left Antipolo that month.

Natividad said the last time she talked to Junjun was three days before they went home to Agusan.

“I told him to allocate a portion of his salary for our mother. He agreed, stating that he would immediately send money home once he would receive his first salary,” she added.

Natividad said she was also suspicious of the stories of Junjun especially on the high salary being offered to him.

“He did not mention any company, name of people or the kind of work offered to him. He just told us that aside from the high pay, his recruiters would also send money to his home in Agusan,” she added.

Sad news

The fate of Junjun was relayed to the family two days before Christmas or on Dec. 23, 2019.

“I received the phone call from someone who introduced as a member of the Army,” Natividad said.

Roberto said he cried upon seeing his mother broke down after receiving the news of Junjun’s death.

“I felt sad for the fate of my younger brother and also felt anger when I recall the day he refused to go home,” Roberto added.

He said the family was not aware that Junjun joined the communist NPA movement in Luzon, adding that all he could remember was that huge salary being offered to him be someone whom Junjun did not identify.

“Now I realize that my brother was deceived by the NPA who recruited him and promised him of high payment,” Roberto added.

AUNT AND SISTER-IN-LAW. Teodora Limit Laurente (left), the aunt of Bertoldo Cabatchete, Jr. or Junjun or Alias “LJ” said she took care of him when his mother left for Manila to look for a job and when his father died. At right is Natividad Cabatchete, the wife of Roberto. (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

He also confirmed the possibility that Junjun died of pneumonia because he had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and was under medication for six months in 2016.

Roberto also expressed gratitude to the government for facilitating the exhumation of his brother’s remains and its transport from Luzon to Barangay Punta.

“Our government really cares. My brother, when he joined the NPA, fought against the government. When he died, his remains were ferried home by the government,” Roberto said.

He added that without the help of the government it would be impossible for them to bring back home the remains of Junjun due to financial constraints.

Roberto said they are still finalizing the date of interment for Junjun’s remains at the Public Cemetery in Punta. -PNA

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