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3 ‘missing’ NPA fighters ‘safe’, ‘in good spirits’ — Army

LE October 5, 2023

The Philippine Army on Thursday belied reports that Alia Encela, Job Abednego David and Peter Del Monte were abducted by soldiers, saying that the three are New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas who were captured during a legitimate military operation in Barangay Lisap, Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro on September 23, 2023.

In a statement, BGen Randolph Cabangbang, commander of the 203rd Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, lashed at the group Karapatan for releasing a statement that was “distorted and full of lies” surrounding the alleged disappearance of the three NPA guerillas, who the group falsely identified as mere “Indigenous People’s defenders”.

“The three (were identified) as members of the Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU), through a profile and gallery of the MRGU. During the capture, they attempted to resist and reach for some objects inside their bags and upon seeing that they have been surrounded, decided to heed the soldiers’ call not to move anymore. They were in possession of improvised landmines and grenades inside their bags that they probably planned to use in ambushing government troops,” Cabangbang further said.

As a result, charges were brought against the three NPA members for violating Republic Act No. 9516 (An act Further Amending the Provisions of PD No. 1866, As Amended, Entitled Codifying the Laws on Illegal/Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives or Instruments Used in the Manufacture of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives, and Imposing Stiffer Penalties for Certain Violations Thereof, and For Other Relevant Purposes) and Violation of Section 4(a) and 4(d), Republic Act No. 11479 (Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020).

Alia, 19 years old, was an active member of Gabriela Youth prior to joining the NPA. The captured rebels claimed that they have been in hiding for months, owing to the continuous military operations and have not eaten a decent meal for two months, according to the Army official.

“Alia joined the armed group in January 2023. Job and Peter, both 29 years old, have been with the NPA for more than 6 years. Job, from Quezon City, is a Fine Arts student of a prestigious school and Peter, a highschool drop-out from Tondo, Manila. They were later on identified by former rebels, who have surrendered, to be New People’s Army (NPA) members,” Cabangbang further stressed.

Meanwhile, there was also no damage to life and property reported by anyone regarding the military operations contrary to the claims of Karapatan.

The family members of the said NPA members were also informed immediately after their apprehension. Alia’s mother was able to reunite with her but Peter and Job’s relatives did not respond and instead reported Cabangbang’s attempt of contacting them to Karapatan-NCR members.

“According to the mother of Peter, she was made to sign documents that were not explained to her and that she needed to sign at once because her son might be in danger. The mother told her son, during a video call, that she was tricked by a certain Jaworski Jordan N. Cruz into signing the documents. The parents of Job were also contacted but they refused to sign any documents presented to them,” Cabangbang added.

The Army maintained its position that there was no forced disappearance concerning the three because all protocols were followed throughout the operation, notwithstanding the false information and accusations made by Karapatan-ST. Following their return from the mountains, the Municipal Police of Bongabong and the Barangay Captain from Barangay Lisap were present. ###


Ref: Joel M. Sy Egco 09155506969 October 5, 2023


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