Reds Exonerate, Release Cafgu Member

Mar. 10, 2006

Captive says he was forced to become Cafgu member; TFDs del Rosario calls NPA move propaganda

From left: Councilor Leo Avila, Ka Parago, Rodolfo Adang and Councilor Jimmy Dureza during the turnover Adang on Wednesday. (DAVAOTODAY.COM PHOTO)

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY (March 10, 2006) — “We have no basis to punish him with death.

These were the words of New People’s Army leader Ka Parago in explaining the release last Wednesday afternoon of Rodolfo Adang, a Lumad member of a paramilitary group who was captured by the Communists in January.

Adang was released to Councilor Jimmy Dureza, who heads the City Councils Committee on Peace and Public Safety, and Councilor Leo Avila III, who said Parago himself had requested him to be with the group that received Adang from the rebels.

The turnover occurred in the afternoon of Wednesday, in a place not too far from the hinterlands of Paquibato District.

A doctor assigned in Paquibato District, Richie Surilla, was also with the group to ensure that Adang was handed over in good condition.

Clad in a checkered Polo shirt and brown slacks, Adang faced some members of the media. Officials in the group kidded Adang that he looked like he had gained weight.

Adang said the NPA had investigated him for allegedly recruiting Cafgus, the armed forces paramilitary group, and that he had been involved in a murder plot.

Ka Parago (DAVAOTODAY.COM PHOTO) Parago told reporters Wednesday that they found out that Adang was only forced to become a member of the Cafgu. “It does not mean that when we captured him, we had already decided that he was guilty of the charges,” Parago explained.

Adang said he was thankful to the NPA for not harming him. He said the NPA made sure he had food to eat, which usually consisted of rice, corn, sometimes pork or chicken, but often dried fish. At first, he said, he had difficulty eating because of fear that he would be killed.

Life with the NPA had been hard, Adang said. “I was often so tired that I wanted to cry each time we walked for nights without a single light to guide our way,” he said. He and two other Cafgus were nabbed by the rebels on Jan. 25.

Two weeks after his capture, Adang was told that Parago wanted to talk to him. In that conversation, Parago told him not to worry because the NPA, Adang recalled the rebel leader telling him, are not ruthless, contrary to what the military portrays them to be, and that they have laws to follow.

In a separate interview with, Adang explained why he became a Cafgu member. Their barangay (village) captain, a certain Bobby Bendio, had come to him one day, telling him that Ruben Labawan, a known anti-communist Lumad leader in Davao who is said to have links with the military, wanted to train Cafgus in their area.

“I was still a purok leader then so the barangay captain told me to list down the names of those who wanted to be trained as Cafgu. Our datu (tribal leader) did not really like it but then they (the group of Labawan) came unannounced. Since I was one among the few who knew how to write, I prepared the list,” Adang said.

He also said that after doing the list, he was included in the payroll of the Cafgus. “That was why I became a Cafgu,” he said.

Dureza had taken custody of Adang, assuring him that he would rejoin his family “in due time.” Adang refused to be turned over to the military, saying he no longer wanted to go back to being a Cafgu. He said he would rather focus on his job as a village councilor.

Meanwhile, in a statement received yesterday by, the Merardo Arce Command, the NPAs operations command in Southern Mindanao, said Adangs release was ordered by the NPA military tribunal that tried his case.

The revolutionary court considered the nature of his offense, weighed his culpability, took into account the mitigating circumstances, and meted out a lesser and appropriate penalty,” it said.

Parago, however, maintained that the two paramilitary men captured with Adang — Inggo Lindaton and Tony Legue will answer to the revolutionary court of the NPA. Lindaton and Legue, who are allegedly members of the Alamara bandit group operating in the Paquibato District, recently escaped from the NPAs custody.

The arrest of the three, the NPA said in the statement, was made on the basis of the standing order for their capture owing to their involvement in various crimes and human rights violations against the masses in Paquibato District, Davao City. It was, it added, in consonance with the process of attaining revolutionary justice for their victims, which forms part of the judicial function of the NPA and the peoples organs of political power in the countryside.

The indictment, trial, conviction and death sentence handed down on Lindaton and Legue, as well as Adangs release, resoundingly affirm the NPAs judicial system, the statement said.

During the release on Wednesday, Parago turned over an AK-47 rifle to Dureza, saying they need justice, not guns. He disputed claims by the military that the NPA had been demanding rifles in exchange for the release of Adang and the two others.

In its statement yesterday, the NPA said that the high-powered assault rifle came from the 73rd Infantry Battalion-Task Force Davao (TFD) and was delivered to the rebels “as part of a sinister scheme to bolster the false and baseless claim made by TFD Col. Eduardo del Rosario about a supposed NPA demand for rifles in exchange for the release of the erstwhile captives. “

In an interview Thursday night on GMA-7s Testigo, del Rosario called Adangs release as propaganda by the NPA. He also accused the NPA of causing trouble in Paquibato and other areas in the region. Our problems everywhere are caused by the NPA, he said.

The hinterlands of Paquibato has always been a flashpoint in the war between the military and the Communists. The military operations in the area in pursuit of the NPA had caused the displacement of residents and several instances of atrocities.

According to human-rights groups, the human-rights situation in Paquibato would worsen with the entry of mining and plantation interests in the district, which often means more military presence and more clashes.

The military has allegedly made it a policy to recruit Paquibato residents, often Lumads, to become Cafgu members. It was also allegedly behind the formation of the Alamara. (Cheryll D. Fiel,

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