KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines – The human rights group Karapatan Southern Mindanao slams the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion for parading an abducted human rights worker as a tax collector for the New People’s Army.
Karapatan gave this reaction after missing human rights worker Racquel Quintano surfaced in the camp of the 71st IB in Mawab, Compostela Valley and allegedly surrendered to battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Esteveyn Ducusin.
The battalion in their statement to the media that Raquel, whom they identified as “Alyas Fiona”, admitted she is the tax collector for the NPA’s Sub-Regional Committee (SRC 2) and former secretary and council member of the farmers’ group Hugpong sa Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC).
But Karapatan Southern Mindanao refutes the military’s statement, saying this is a ploy to discredit human rights workers by red-tagging.
“This is not the first time that the 71st IB has become the factory of fake news and script writing against the progressive groups by claiming they are NPA organizers or NPA agents, and so we strongly demand the release of Raquel,” Karapatan SMR Secretary General Jay Apiag said.
Apiag said Quintano is a spokesperson of Kalumonan, an organization of relatives of political prisoners in Southern Mindanao. Quintano’s husband is a detainee facing trumped-up charges, according to Karapatan.
Quintano has been active in facilitating cases and also led a case filing at the Commission on Human Rights on reported military abuses against detainees, Karapatan said.
Karapatan said Quintano was last seen on January 16 Wednesday waiting for a jeepney in Sunrise, Barangay Madaum, Tagum City when a black Toyota Vios stopped in front of her and he was dragged into the car. The next day, she was seen on the military’s statement and Facebook posts.
Apiag believed Quintano might have been psychologically tortured considering she was inside the military camp.
“The case of Racquel is a common picture where the military paints a human rights worker as an NPA member. But the reason why is that they are so desperate for the reward from the Duterte government. The AFP is corrupt in that it continues to present fake surrenderees and repress our rights,” said Apiag. (davaotoday.com)