Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Human rights group slams military for arrest of 2 civilians in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 16, 2010) – A Filipino human rights group accused government soldiers of illegally detaining two civilians suspected as communist rebels in the southern Philippines.

The group calling itself “Karapatan” said soldiers arrested the duo - Analou Ayagina and Jimuel Tanilon – in their house last week in the village of Magsaysay in Compostela Valley’s Nabunturan town.

The two are sister and cousin of Emily Ayagina, a staff of the human rights group, said Hanimay Suazo, of Karapatan.

She said the military later reported the two are members of the communist rebel group New People’s Army and that they had surrendered to the authorities.

“We are appalled with how the military brazenly denies the illegal arrest and detention of the two civilians,” Suazo said in a statement. “It is the character of their so-called peace and development teams and part of their counter-insurgency program to harass the family members of human rights defenders and deceive the civilians.”

Suazo said the two were interrogated by the military and forced them to reveal Ayagina’s whereabouts. She said Ayagina has been staying with the Karapatan after soldiers harassed her. “Emily was a victim of military harassment herself.

She was also forced to admit that she's a New People’s Army member last year,” she said without further elaborating.

Lieutenant Medel Aguilar, a spokesman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said Ayagina and Tanilon were member’s of the New People’s Army Guerilla Front 33.

He said a village leader Alejandro Coming facilitated the surrender of the duo and that Ayegina had returned home while Tanilon sought protection from the military for his own safety.

“Analou (Ayagina) went home already because she will take care of her sick mother. Jimuel (Tanilon) opted to stay with the military for his safety. All the events were reported to the police,” Aguilar told the Mindanao Examiner.

The military has repeatedly accused the Karapatan as a front of the New People’s Army, armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines which is fighting for decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao)

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