PH Army debunks militants' claim of 3 Reds 'enforced disappearance'

By Priam Nepomuceno

October 5, 2023, 11:34 am

<p>Philippine Army (PA) 203rd Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Randolph Cabangbang <em>(Photo courtesy of the PA 203rd Infantry Brigade)</em></p>

Philippine Army (PA) 203rd Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Randolph Cabangbang (Photo courtesy of the PA 203rd Infantry Brigade)

MANILA – The Philippine Army's (PA) 203rd Infantry Brigade on Wednesday night debunked the claim of a militant group that the arrest of three New People's Army (NPA) members in Oriental Mindoro on Sept. 23 was a case of an abduction or "enforced disappearance."

In a statement, Brig. Gen. Randolph Cabangbang, 203rd Infantry Brigade commander, described as "fabricated" the posts of Karapatan Southern Tagalog on the incident.

He added that Job Abednego David, Peter del Monte and Alia Encelo were identified by soldiers as members of the NPA's Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU), through a profile and gallery of the MRGU.

"During the capture, they attempted to resist and reach for some object inside their bags but upon seeing that they had been surrounded, decided to heed the soldiers' call not to move anymore. This is most definitely not a case of enforced disappearance but an example of how the Army follows procedures and values human rights," he added.

He debunked claims that the operations that resulted in their arrest caused damage to life or property.

"No damage to life or property is reported by anyone contrary to the claims of Karapatan. Only the NPAs are affected during massive combat operations," he said.

The three were arrested in a mountainous area of Sitio Lawaan in Barangay Lisap, Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro.

Government troops found in the bags of the three NPA members improvised landmines and grenades, which Cabangbang said they may have planned to use in ambushing government troops.

Cabangbang said Encelo, 19, is an active member of Gabriela Youth.

Citing information from Encelo, Cabangbang said the three communist rebels had been in hiding for months due to continuous military operations and have not eaten a decent meal for two months.

He said Encelo joined the armed group in January 2023 while David and del Monte, both 29 years old, have been with the NPA for more than six years.

David is a Fine Arts college student while del Monte is a high school drop-out from Tondo, Manila.

After undergoing inquest proceedings last Sept. 26, Encelo reunited with her mother Sept. 28.

Cabangbang said David's mother was "tricked" by a certain Jaworski Jordan N. Cruz into signing certain documents that were not explained to her and that she was pressed to sign them at once because her son might be in danger.

He said David's parents were also contacted by alleged members of Karapatan but they refused to sign any documents presented to them.

"Is this the nature of enforced disappearance? I thank Karapatan –ST for publishing that I indeed contacted the relatives of Job, Peter and Alia (via the messenger of my wife) earlier than their group. Thank you for providing me with evidence that the Army is more concerned with the rights of NPAs. I gave my true identity and personal number to the relatives," Cabangbang said.

Cabangbang pointed out the NPA members in Mindoro Island have been responsible for 35 killings since 2000.

Those killed include 16 indigenous peoples, 10 civilians and four former rebels.

"These are the real documented human rights violations. Not included are nine persons who were abducted and by the statements of some of their comrades, are already dead as the NPAs handed them the Hatol Pamamarusa," Cabangbang said. (PNA)