AFP responds to petition filed by religious leaders for red-tagging

Published November 29, 2022, 10:47 AM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has reacted to the petition for a writ of amparo filed by two pastors and a lay leader against the military leadership after they were allegedly tagged by personnel of the 59th Infantry “Protector” Battalion (59IB) of the 2nd Infantry Division as communist rebels.

File photo courtesy of 59th Infantry Battalion / Facebook

“We haven’t received yet the formal copy of the petition. In the meantime, we will look at the allegations and will answer in the proper forum,” Col. Jorry Baclor, chief of AFP public affairs office, shortly replied on Monday night, Nov. 28, when asked by reporters.

According to reports, United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) pastors Edwin and Julieta Egar and lay leader Ronald Ramos filed a petition for a writ of amparo before the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday.

The High Court describes the petition for a writ of amparo as a “remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated and threatened with violation by an unlawful act or ommission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.”

The petitioners reportedly accused the troops of the Mauban, Quezon-based 59IB of coercing them to surrender and admit to being members of the New People’s Army despite the lack of evidence last Oct. 31.

They were also supposedly threatened by the troops that they will be subjected to a search operation, while a text message allegedly from the military warned the petitioners that they will be killed in a fabricated shootout.

According to reports, named respondents in the petition were AFP Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro; Philippine Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr.; 2nd Infantry Division commander, Maj. Gen. Roberto Capulong; 59th IB Commander, Lt. Col. Ernesto Teneza Jr.; and 59IB officers Sgt. Ronald Dalo, Sgt. John Granpil, Pvts. First Class Borge Ebol, Roy Dela Peña, and Bong Samela among others.

The 59IB has yet to respond to the issue.

However, in a social media post, the 59th IB denied another allegation of red-tagging by labor group Kasama TK (Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan) involving one “Gigi Bautista,” a farmer and chairman of Barangay Agrarian Reform Council (BARC) in Calaca, Batangas.

According to the group, Bautista’s house was stormed by military personnel last Nov. 27. The individual was also supoosedly threatened by the troops that his house will be raided and he might “end up dead” if things got awry.

The 59IB denied the allegation.

“Bilib na bilib din kami sa sigasig ninyo sa pag-gawa at pagpapakalat ng fake news. Tandaan, hindi kaugalian ng mga kasundaluhan na mandahas ng mga mamamayan (We are in awe of your persistence to create and spread fake news. Remember, it is not cuatomary for the military to harass the public),” the 59IB said in a Facebook post Monday.

The troops said they only visited the house of Bautista to hold a dialogue.