By Gerry Albert Corpuz
MANILA, Philippines- The seven progressive party list congressmen in the House of Representatives last week filed House Resolution No. 2450 directing the House Committee on Human Rights to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the arrest and detention of five activists, whom military and police authorities alleged as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) during a military raid in two farming villages in Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija province last March 28.
Asserting that basic human rights were grossly violated by state security forces, Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna congressmen Teddy Casino and Neri Javier Colmenares, Gabriela Women party list representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de, Kabataan party list Rep. Raymond Palatino and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party list solon Antonio Tinio said the reported arrest and detention of five alleged NPAs--- Efren Delalamon, Andres Ely, Carla Bautista, Ambrocio Ileto and Jan Michael Ileto by the combined elements of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) merits full blown probe of the human rights committee on Congress.
The 7 party list solons asserted that Delalamon is a political prisoner, Bautista is an assistant program coordinator of the Nueva Ecija Community Based Health Program, Ely is a peasant organizer, Ambrocio is member of Anakpawis party list, while Jan Michael, a minor, is a nephew of Ambrocio.
Citing a report compiled by the human rights group Karapatan on the circumstances that led to the arrest of five alleged NPAs in Barangays Polilio and Sto. Nino, Rep. Mariano said the pattern of the arrest and eventual detention of five activists is in line with the counter-insurgency program known as Oplan Bayanihan.
On March 28, at around 4pm government troops arrived at Barangays Polilio and Sto. Nino to back a police team ought to serve warrants of arrest to a number of people, whose identities were not disclosed by the arresting authorities. In Barangay Polilio, the Karapatan report says the soldiers went directly to the house of Ambrocio Ileto. According to Rachelle, daughter of Ambrocio, at least 20 soldiers went inside their house while others surrounded the same.
In Barangay Sto. Nino, witnesses claimed said soldiers started firing their guns as they approached the house of Elpidio Ileto, Ambrocio’s brother. At the time of the assault, Delalamon, Ely and Bautista were inside the house. As a result of firing, Delalamon was hit in the right arm and on the left side of his body.
Ambrocio who was tending to his vegetable farm near Elpidio’s house was taken and handcuffed by the military, while Jan Michael who was about to leave the house was also tied up. The five activists were made to stay flay on the ground, while troops took Ambrocio to board a white car and proceeded to his house in Barangay Polilio.
The Karapatan report also said that the six police officers alleged in their joint affidavit of arrest that they seized only an amount of P 164,000 but the detainees claimed that the money amounting to P 239,000 and some personal items were taken from them by members of the arresting team.
Meanwhile, the families of Ambrocio and Elpidio reported that aside from personal belongings, the Philippine Army and the police took their wallets containing an amount of P 16,700, a child’s coin bank, 2 hammocks, eight kilos of dried fish, medicine and a unit of N70 cellphone.
“There was gross misrepresentation of truth when the AFP claimed the five arrested activists first figured in a clash against a platoon led by Capt. Noel Warmil of the Philippine Army. And the activists were charged of rebellion and violations of Human Security Act of 2007 even if the events were faked and the charges were based on fabricated stories along the storyline of Oplan Bayanihan,” the Anakpawis solon lamented.
The Karapatan report says on March 28, at around 4pm , government troops belonging to 56th IBPA under the command of Col. Hilario Vicente Lagmada and Capt. Warmil, as supported by police elements of Nueva Ecija Rep. Mariano said it is ironic that while the Philippine government on May 29 is set to undergo the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to check if all UN member states comply with their human rights obligations, several human rights groups raised alarm over the continuing human rights violations, the Aquino government remains supportive of the AFP and the PNP in violating the human rights of the people through the US-engineered Oplan Bayanihan under Washington’s US Counter-Insurgency Guide of 2009.
The Anakpawis party list lawmaker said the arrest of five activists during a bogus encounter in Nueva Ecija last March 28 will soon be included in a report to be filed by human rights group at the UN human right body. He said the second review of the Philippines is scheduled on May 29 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Philippines has already submitted its national report for the second cycle of the UPR. The first UPR on the Philippines was conducted in April 2008. In its 22-page report, the Aquino administration claimed decrease in the number of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Citing the report of Task Force Usig from 2008 to 2011, Malacanang says that there were only 27 activists and media practitioners killed during the period.
The Task Force Usig of the Philippine National Police (PNP) was created during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo supposedly to investigate cases and curb extrajudicial killings of activists and journalists. But Anakpawis party list dismissed the report of Task Force Usig as hogwash and the extreme opposite of truth, adding further that the arrest of five activists in Nueva Ecija is clear proof that the human rights performance of the Aquino administration is very poor or below par.