PNP to refile kidnapping complaint vs Satur Ocampo’s group
Updated @ 1:10 a.m., Dec. 4, 2018
The Philippine National Police will refile the kidnapping complaint it had brought against ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and 16 other left-leaning activists but was rejected by the provincial prosecutor of Davao del Norte last week.
Castro, Ocampo and other activists were arrested by the military and the police in Talaingod town, Davao del Norte, on Wednesday night after they rescued teachers and schoolchildren from alleged harassment by a paramilitary force called Alamara.
The authorities detained the activists and filed kidnapping and human trafficking charges against them.
The provincial prosecutor in Tagum City rejected the kidnapping charge but found probable cause to prosecute them for child trafficking.
Castro, Ocampo and the activists were released on bail of P80,000 each. They returned to Manila on Sunday.
Complaints from parents
The PNP said on Monday that the kidnapping charge would be refiled, following the filing of complaints by the parents of five of the schoolchildren.
PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said the prosecutor may have rejected the kidnapping charge because “the case might be weak.”
But the prosecutor might accept a refiled case, as “there are already complaints from the parents,” Albayalde said.
Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told reporters on Monday that the arrest of Castro and Ocampo for alleged child trafficking was proof that “they are active members” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
“The last bastion of the CPP-NPA is the [‘lumad’] because indigenous people are the most vulnerable sector that they can trick,” Galvez said.
Ocampo on Monday denied that he was an active member of the CPP and that he was recruiting minors to fight for the NPA.
There was no immediate comment from Castro.
“There is a rule in the CPP-NPA against recruitment of minors. So definitely that could not be a part of the program of the NPA,” Ocampo said in a television interview.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday said members of the House of Representatives should be accorded respect.
“The House is a body of elected representatives of the people, and … all its members, such as Rep. France Castro, are entitled to a certain level of dignified and respectful treatment in situations such as this,” Arroyo said in a statement.
Arroyo, however, did not comment on the charges brought against Castro and the other activists.
Ocampo did not deny that the NPA was present in Davao del Norte and that there were indigenous people who had joined the insurgents.
“The communities of the lumad are in the hinterlands so [these] become [battlegrounds]. It is not surprising that the NPA [organizes] the people in the struggle for their welfare,” Ocampo said.
“So it doesn’t deny that there are lumad who joined the NPA, but they are not minors,” he added.
Ocampo said he was no longer a member of the CPP-NPA and that he acted independently of the communist movement.
“It’s a rule that after a long imprisonment or once a supposed leader of the CPP-NPA is arrested, he loses all the titles and the duties in the revolutionary movement,” he said.
Ocampo was arrested and imprisoned during the martial law rule of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
He was ordered released in 1986 together with CPP founder Jose Maria Sison by then President Corazon Aquino, who was swept into power in the Edsa People Power Revolution that brought down Marcos.
Ocampo said he had the choice of rejoining the revolutionary movement, but opted to “stay aboveground and to join the open legal protest mass movement.”
“All my activities are aboveground,” he said.
Ocampo also denied Albayalde’s claim that lumad schoolchildren in Davao del Norte were being taught by the rebels to sing a different national anthem.
“As far as I know, I don’t know of an instance where a different version of the national anthem is taught in lumad schools,” he said.
Ocampo challenged Albayalde to produce evidence to prove his claim.
“I don’t know [Director] General Albayalde’s source. He has to produce evidence. That would be a ground,” he said.
Alamara gunmen shut down the lumad school Salugpongan Ta’tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center at Barangay Palma Gil on Wednesday.
Police said the Department of Education (DepEd) ordered the school closed because it was suspected to be a front for the NPA.
The DepEd denied ordering the school closed.
“We [did] not issue a closure order. The Division of Davao del Norte has no authority to issue [closure orders]. If there is, the order should be issued by the DepEd central office in Manila,” Josephine Fadul, the division superintendent, said in an interview on Sunday.
Fadul said the Salugpongan community schools were recognized by the DepEd and they had a regular curriculum.
Enrollment in these schools has been falling, however, because of the harassment of teachers and students by the military, she said, reporting a complaint from Meggie Nolasco, executive director of the Salugpongan community school.
Fadul said she had written to the military for comment, but had yet to receive a reply.
On Monday, Davao del Norte Gov. Anthony del Rosario appealed to leftist groups to stop exploiting the lumad of Talaingod and work with the government instead.
Del Rosario said the arrest of Ocampo and his group had “exposed the wiles of the leftist organizations in using the [lumad] to push their agenda.” —With reports from Vince F. Nonato and Mart Sambalud
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