TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines— The Army said firearm and ammunition were recovered from an environmental activist who was caught while putting posters of a peace forum in a village in Pantukan town, Compostela Valley.
Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, confirmed on Tuesday, September 20, that military troops arrested Maniquez and was turned over to law enforcement officers.
“A certain Jhon Claudio Maniquez was turned over to PNP Pantukan for filing of case for violation of RA 10591,” Batchar told DavaoToday in a text message. Republic Act 10591 is the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
Batchar said that recovered from Maniquez possession were one magnum 357 and six live ammunition, a claim denied by Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, an environmental group that opposed the operations of large-scale mining companies at Barangay Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley.
Panalipdan claimed Maniquez is a member of their organization and denounced his “illegal arrest”.
The group said soldiers of the 46th Infantry Battalion based in Compostela Valley province arrested Maniquez on Monday evening, September 19 while he was hanging posters about a peace forum that will be conducted in the town proper.
“John along with two other youth from the same village were putting up posters to invite community members to attend a forum on the peace talks. They were being followed by soldiers while they were doing the postering,” said Jezel Requizo, chairperson of Panalipdan Youth-Pantukan, in a statement on Tuesday, September 20.
Maniquez’s arrest came as Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC) is conducting a series of peace forum in Compostela Valley province.
The forum dubbed “Ang Pakigbisog alang sa Yuta, Pagkaon, Trabaho, Katungod, ug Hustisya kay Pakigbisog alang sa Kalinaw (The Struggle for Land, Food, Jobs, Rights and Justice is a struggle for Peace)” aims to inform the public about the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Today, the group together with church-based group Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP) conducted a Peace Forum at Mabini in Compostela Valley where several NDFP consultants in Southern Mindanao gave a talk about the plight of political prisoners, the peace talks agenda and the issue of socioeconomic reforms, among others. (davaotoday.com)