By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Two staff members of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)-Southern Tagalog were taken by soldiers and policemen, August 5, and remain missing to this day.
In a statement sent through email, NDFP-Laguna said Jesus Abetria, 50, and his staff, Restituto Galicia, 27, were abducted by members of the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Battalion and Philippine National Police – Region 4A in Longos village, Kalayaan, Laguna at around 10 p.m. that day.
The two were taken while on board an owner-type jeep driven by Florante Reyes of San Antonio, Kalayaan, Laguna who volunteered to take Abetria to a hospital.
“Though visibly sick, the joint forces of government troops from the 1st IB-PA and PNP-Region 4A, forcefully dragged Jesus Abetria out of the vehicle, kicked him and hit him with their rifles, before dragging him and his staff inside the military vehicle,” the NDFP-Laguna said.
“Instead of bringing him to a medical facility, he was brought to an undisclosed military ‘safehouse’ together with his staff where he was tortured and being forced to admit crimes they did not commit.”
The driver, Reyes, was released after being subjected to physical and psychological torture, the group said. He was released after a day with a threat not to divulge anything about the arrest lest he and his family be harmed.
The NDFP-Laguna said that since their arrest, the two are being kept incommunicado in an undisclosed detention facility and are being interrogated without the benefit of counsel and being held without justifiable reason.
The revolutionary group said the abduction of Abetria and Galicia is a clear violation of international war protocols and the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
The group added that the two, as staff members of the NDFP-Southern Tagalog Region who are involved in peace negotiations with the Government of the Philippines (GPH) are covered by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig). Under Jasig, a bilateral agreement signed by both parties, all those involved in the peace talks are immune from arrest, abduction and other forms of harassment.
The NDFP said Abetria also needs immediate medical attention and must be brought to a medical facility instead of an undisclosed detention facility.
“This act of GPH security personnel against NDFP members clearly shows that the Aquino regime is not serious in peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and NDFP,” the NDFP-Laguna said. “Certainly, the abduction of Jesus Abetria and Restituto Galicia adds to the growing obstacle in the peace negotiations between the NDFP and GPH.”
The group challenged President Benigno Aquino III to order his armed forces to immediately surface the two NDFP members. “He must order the military captors of Jesus Abetria to immediately release him for
confinement to a medical facility and be taken care of by medical personnel of his own choice,” it said.