ILOILO City – The suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA) whose body was recovered in Sitio Lay, Barangay Dalije, Miag-ao, Iloilo on June 29 after a clash with Philippine Army troops had been identified. The encounter lasted for some 15 minutes. The armed men retreated to the mountains. Army soldiers recovered a body. Malvin Christian Cruz was a member of the activist League of Filipino Students (LFS) at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) in Miag-ao, according to Army Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, commander of the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB). He urged parents to monitor their children’s activities in school. Cruz, a resident of Barangay San Nicolas, Oton, Iloilo, was a Bachelor of Science in Statistics student at UPV from 2015 to 2016, said Batara. Batara said Cruz joined the NPA when he was only 17 years old. “(Cruz) was identified by his parents only on July 3. We have yet to ask the parents if they knew their son was an NPA leader,” said Batara. “They wanted to project na malakas pa rin sila, but they are not,” said Pancito. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines./PN The NPA is on a recruitment spree because its ranks are declining, he revealed. Despite the current public health emergency due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the NPA is pushing through with its recruitment activities. In Barangay Lanag, Tigbauan town the rebels circulated recruitment flyers and displayed streamers. “They need to recruit in the lowlands because they no longer have recruits in the upland areas,” said Pancito. “Para hindi mapahamak ang mga anak. Dapat ma-guide talaga ng maayos at hindi malinlang ng mga rebelde,” said Batara. Just this March 29 the NPA marked its 51stanniversary. “They have become irrelevant and desperate. Alam nila na ang support ng tao ay nasa government forces na. Ang mga tao ay sawa na sa kanilang promises,” said Pancito. According to the Army commander, Cruz was known as “Lean” or “Lucas” in the NPA’s Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay and that he was the team leader of Squad 3, Suyak Platoon. The recruit flyers were printed with words “Lumalakas, lumalawak, lumalaban. Join NPA. Napoleon Tumagtang Command. I love NPA dito sa Tigbauan.” The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) criticized the NPA for the latter’s obtuse insensitivity to public sentiment at this time. In the whole Panay Island, Pancito said, there are now less than a hundred rebels. Many NPA members surrendered to the government and others were killed in encounters with government troops, he added. Thirty 30 armed men fired at 61IB troops in Sitio Lay, Barangay Dalije, Miag-ao at around 10:30 a.m. on June 29 while the government soldiers were verifying a report about NPA recruitment activities in the area and nearby San Joaquin town. “The rebels are insensitive to the plight of the people who are all on quarantine in their houses. They are taking advantage of the situation,” said 3ID spokesperson, Army Captain Cenon Pancito III.