TACLOBAN CITY-A progressive human rights group based in this city reported that three peasant members were detained by soldiers in Northern Samar on October 2, an allegation vehemently denied by the government troops.
Alexander Abiguna of Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas said that detained by the members of the 20th Infantry Battalion, which is based in Catubig town, Northern Samar, were Christian Sabado, who belong to a peasant group, Northern Samar Small Farmers’ Association (NSSFA), Anton Manoso, and Edson Piczon, whom he said to be village watchmen of Barangay Hinagonoyan, Catubig town.
Abiguna claimed that the three were on their way to Brgy. San Francisco, Las Navas town, also in Northern Samar, reportedly to conduct investigation on the pest infestation affecting the abaca industry in the town and the impact among coconut farmers on the low price of copra when they were apprehended by the government troops on that day at about 11 am.
“They were made to lie face down on the ground while the soldiers stepped on them multiple times. It also appears that they were manhandled and physically abused upon arrest,” he said.
Abiguna said that they condemns the ‘intimidation and harassment of the civilians as they demanded for the immediate release of the three.
But this allegations of Abiguna was dispelled by the military saying the three were not physically abused during their arrest.
In a post on their Facebook account, the 20th IB, which is under the command of Lt.Col. Juan Gullem, said they were not farmers contrary to Abiguna’s claims but members of the New People’s Army(NPA).
The government troops were in the area as part of their security patrol when they chanced upon Sabado and his companions who were said to have carrying firearms, explosives and subversive documents which resulted to their arrest.
And based on their questioning to Sabado, who is from Manila, he said that he was sent to Northern Samar to ‘propagate’ the white area operations of the CPP-NPA in the province long been considered by the military to still have an active insurgency problem in Eastern Visayas.
His companions, Manoso and Piczon, were identified by the military as regular members of the NPA.
“We assure the family and friends of (Sabado) and his company, now in the custody of PNP, are treated humanely in accordance to the rule of law,” it said.
A video, showing a clean-faced Sabado was posted by the 20th IB on their Facebook account to dispel claims of Abiguna that he was physically mauled and manhandled.
Sabado said that he is being treated well by both soldiers and police of Las Navas.