DAVAO CITY—The National Democratic Front (NDF) has decided to forego its annual celebration of the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Wednesday in solidarity with those affected by Typhoon “Pablo” that has so far killed more than 1,000 people.
Jorge Madlos, alias “Ka Oris,” NDF spokesperson, has assured the relief organizations of safety for their volunteers in hinterland villages devastated by the typhoon.
“They don’t have to be afraid. They are free to go there,” Madlos told the Inquirer by phone on Wednesday. He said a lot of residents still have not received assistance from either private or government organizations 23 days after the typhoon devastated the Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces.
“They (relief volunteers) can be assured that no untoward incident will happen to them, provided they don’t bring military troops with them,” Madlos said, adding that they have instructed their comrades to facilitate those who wish to go to affected villages for relief distribution.
The rebels have also declared a 27-day ceasefire from Dec. 20, 2012, to Jan. 15, 2013. “We also told our forces not to launch any tactical offensive,” Madlos said.
He said Pablo created “a crisis so great” in the two provinces that thousands of families are now without livelihood. “So we really need to help each other,” he said.
“We see helicopters dropping off relief goods but still there are lots of affected families who were not able to receive any,” he said.
Madlos said several of their comrades suffered injuries during the onslaught of the typhoon but no casualties from their ranks were reported. He said they also went out to help villagers but could only do so much with their limited resources.
In Lucena City, CPP on Tuesday condemned the Armed Forces of the Philippines for violating the holiday truce with the alleged illegal arrest and torture of three suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and two others in Quezon.
In a statement, CPP claimed that the three suspected NPA rebels were tortured and detained at the Mulanay police station jail while their two other companions were also tortured before they were freed.
“Their faces and bodies bore clear signs of torture. They are clearly psychologically traumatized,” said CPP, referring to their now jailed comrades.
The CPP also claimed that the arrest and supposed torture of Dennis Quidor of Macalelon town, Eliseo Lopez of San Francisco town and a 17-year-old male from San Andres town were carried out in violation of the Yuletide truce.
Lt. Col. Dennis Perez, commander of the Army’s 74th Infantry Battalion based in Mulanay, scoffed at the rebels’ allegation, saying there are medical certificates to attest to the contrary. “They were not harmed, much more tortured,” Perez said over the phone.
He said the arrest of the three was “already an accomplishment on our part; we will not jeopardize its merit by torturing them.”
He also refuted the CPP accusation. “Arresting criminals with warrants of arrest was not covered by the ceasefire. When the rebels evaded the first checkpoint, our men and the police took the necessary precautions to arrest them because of the many killings in the area,” Perez argued.
Perez cited the recent admissions of NPA in Quezon that they were responsible for the recent executions of three supposed military spies in Tagkawayan town. “The arrested persons were really NPA, as attested by local officials and their extortion victims,” Perez said.
On Sunday, Col. Generoso Bolina, spokesperson of the AFP Southern Luzon Command here, said three suspected rebels and their two drivers were arrested by a combined team of Army soldiers and local police in Mulanay shortly before midnight on Friday.
The suspected rebels were arrested while traveling aboard two motorcycles-for-hire. The drivers were later released by the government forces. Dennis Jay Santos, Inquirer Mindanao and Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon