TACLOBAN CITY – The 802nd Infantry Brigade (IB) has refuted the claim of the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas (NDF-EV) that the brigade forcibly took seven minors in Carigara, Leyte last week.
Capt. Kaharudin Cadil, Civil Military Operations Officer of the 802nd Brigade, said they expected the NDF-EV to defend Edencio and Nora Dionaldo in whose house at Sitio Utap, Barangay Canlampay the military found firearms, ammunition, explosives, communist terrorist propaganda and other war materials.
“The NDF-EV’s statement is aimed to deviate the issue and cover the real activities their NPA cohorts are doing in the area. The NDF-EV also wants to discredit the efforts of the government forces and the Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) in driving the CPP-NPA armed terrorists away from the peace-loving people of Carigara so that socio-economic and development programs could be implemented,” Cadil said.
Edencio, using the alias Bernie Bates, has been in hiding from the law due to his two murder cases pending before the courts in Carigara and in nearby Jaro town.
The Army Brigade also claims that the Dionaldo couple is no ordinary mass member as the discovery of contrabands and papers from their house/meeting area on November 13 forced the entire Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) to come to their defense by way of publishing the NDF-EV’s public statement in the Philippine Revolution Web Central (PWRC) – CPP’s official website on November 19.
The NDF-EV insisted that the raid was illegal as the soldiers were pursuing a unit of the NPA and alleged that they arbitrarily raided the home on mere suspicion that Edencio was a member of the NPA. They also claimed that they illegally arrested Nora and her 21-year old son Ernie, and arbitrarily detained and interrogated overnight at least 11 men who happened to be near their home.
The NDF-EV also called for the release of Nora and Ernie and the immediate relief of the soldiers together with their commanders in the 93rd Infantry Battalion, 802nd Infantry Brigade, and 8th Infantry Division for alleged human rights violations.
It called the raid “as an attack by the AFP against children in Eastern Visayas for its anti-communist witch hunt.”
“The NDF-EV calls upon human rights defenders to look into the cases of these minors, provide them legal assistance, and bring them back to their families.”
The 802nd IB defended its action by saying that it was primarily for their protection and safety that the troops held the men overnight at Barangay Hiluctogan as military operation was in progress.
“The soldiers indeed quizzed the men the following morning as they gave faulty alibis but they were neither coerced nor intimidated into admitting something or implicating anybody. Instead, the soldiers fed them before they were properly turned over to the Carigara Local Government Unit through the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) in good physical condition,” Cadil said.