Rights group protests arrest of alleged NPA leader
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol – Human rights group Karapatan condemned on Sunday the arrest of an alleged New People’s Army (NPA) leader and former detainee inside a hospital in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
Karaptan, in a statement, said Pedro Lumantas was seeking treatment and confined at the Ramiro Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City when he was served a warrant on Saturday past 1 p.m. for “trumped up” charge of attempted murder by military and police agents.
Karapatan accused the military of desecrating the sanctuary provided by the hospital.
Lumantas, 54, of Barangay Magsaysay in Sevilla town, Bohol, was arrested based on the warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court for murder he allegedly committed in October last year.
Authorities received a tip that Lumantas was confined at the hospital on June 14 under the name of Victor Penarejo.
Police said Lumantas sustained gunshot wounds from a suspected firefight.
After serving the arrest warrant, Lumantas was guarded by personnel of the Bohol Provincial Police Office.
The Army said Lumantas was believed to be the finance and logistics officer of the NPA in Central Visayas.
Military sources said Lumantas was identified in several anti-government sorties in Bohol including the ambush of two soldiers – 2nd Lt. Socrates Que in March of 2000 in Sagbayan and 1Lt.Ronnie Bungaos in March of 2003.
On July 28, 2008, Lumantas and his girlfriend Lita Mahilum of Labangon, Cebu City, were arrested for illegal possession of explosives at a wharf in Sibulan in Negros Oriental.
Both denied the accusations.
Lumantas was jailed but was released on conditional parole.
Karapatan demanded that Lumantas be immediately released on humanitarian grounds and allowed to recuperate free from any threats.
Jimmylisa Badayos, secretary general of Karapatan-Central Visayas, said that “The beastly treatment of a patient seeking refuge in a hospital is a violation of universal humanitarian standards that has no place in any civilized society.
“If they truly have a case against Lumantas, the military should be confident enough to wait for the patient to recuperate before harassing him with fake charges from recycled cases”, she added.
Badayos feared more harassment against activists will ensue in Bohol following the intensified militarization of its rural and urban areas under President Rodrigo Duterte’s counter-insurgency Oplan Kapayapaan and the impasse on the peace talks. /cbb
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