Abducted spokesperson of political prisoners surfaces at military camp in Compostela Valley
DAVAO CITY—The military on Thursday announced the surrender of an alleged “tax collector” of the communist New People’s Army in Mawab town, Compostela Valley.
But rights group Karapatan said Raquel Quintano, 42, was, in fact, the spokesperson of Kalumonan, a group of relatives of jailed political prisoners in Southern Mindanao, and that she had been abducted by unidentified men in Tagum City on Wednesday.
Quintano, identified by soldiers as a tax collector of the NPA’s Sub-regional Committee 2 in Southern Mindanao, surrendered on Wednesday to Lt. Col. Esteveyn Ducusin, commander of the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion based in Mawab town, said 1Lt. Jhocell de Asis, 71st IB spokesperson.
De Asis said Quintano, whom she only identified as a certain Fiona, also confessed that she was the former sub-section secretary of the militant farmers’ group Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (Farmers’ Alliance of Compostela Valley or Humawac) and that her tasks included organizing people to join anti-government demonstrations.
“Target of their extortion activities are businessmen, politicians, mining and logging (firms) and store owners wherein the collections are remitted to their higher command in the region,” De Asis said in a statement.
She said Quintano revealed her participation in several huge rallies here since 2014, including one during the burial of slain rebel leader Leoncio Pitao alias Commander Parago.
Jay Apiag, Karapatan Southern Mindanao secretary general, claimed Quintano was seized by men and forced into a black Toyota Vios car as she was waiting for a jeepney ride in Sunrise, Barangay (Village) Madaum, Tagum City around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“She is active in calling for the release of all political prisoners in the country, including her husband who is currently detained due to ludicrous charges,” Apiag said in a statement.
De Asis, the Army spokesperson, said Quintano was forced to join the communist guerrillas and that she had stayed with the group for five years.
“According to her, that’s the reason why her husband is in jail. She realized (the movement) ruined her family,” De Asis said./lzb
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