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Abducted activist ‘surrenders’ as rebel tax collector

/ 05:54 AM January 19, 2019

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY Militants hold a rally outside the gates of the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame to denounce a crackdown on activists. —LYN RILLON

DAVAO CITY—The military on Thursday announced the surrender of what officials said was a tax collector of the New People’s Army (NPA) but who, a rights group said, was actually an activist abducted by unidentified men recently.

The military said Raquel Quintano, 42, surrendered on Wednesday to an officer, Lt. Col. Esteveyn Ducusin.

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Quintano was operating in the town of Mawab, Compostela Valley province as an NPA tax collector, according to 1Lt. Jhocell de Asis, spokesperson of the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion.

De Asis said Quintano belonged to the NPA’s subregional committee 2 in Southern Mindanao.

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Legal front

Meanwhile, after several cadres or former rebels exposed the establishment of legal fronts by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), another militant teacher came out to accuse the organization of forming a legal front in the form of a teachers’ organization in the 1980s.

Ka Jamie, a teacher who is a witness in the struggle of various public school teachers in the country, said the CPP-NPA–NDF also used the teachers’ organization to push with the communist and terroristic agenda.

She also became an organizer of the Manila Public School teachers Association (MPSTA), a coalition partner of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Ka Jamie was the organizer of ACT, which was established on January 26, 1982, but her task was to organize the MPSTA.

Ka Jamie also became a regular street demonstrator, along with the Public School Teachers Association, calling for the salary increase of public school teachers.

She added that her involvement became deeper in the communist organization and she had been a witness in the alleged illegal activities of the group.

The underground organization of the NDF, the Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA), also came in and became their ally.

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She was asked to be part of this KAGUMA – CPP/NPA/NDF, which claimed that the true solution to the problem in education is armed struggle.

She was told that the participation of teachers in the rural areas play a great role in encouraging other teachers to teach the communist ideology to children and to the masses including the peasant warriors who lack  the education.

Because she was still young and wanting to have a change in the country, she accepted the offer to be part of KAGUMA – CPP/NPA/NDF.

After one year, she became an active part of the CPP and a few months later she was officially playing an active role organizing and teaching the Party ideology.

Alias Fiona

The military spokesperson said Quintano, whom she identified only as a certain Fiona, also confessed that she was the former subsection secretary of 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 antigovernment 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 rallies here since 2014, including one during the burial of slain rebel leader Leoncio Pitao, alias Commander Parago.

Abducted

But Jay Apiag, Karapatan Southern Mindanao secretary general, said Quintano was a victim of abduction by state forces.

She was seized by unidentified men and forced into a black Toyota Vios as she was waiting for a jeepney ride in the village of Madaum in Tagum City, around 8:30 a.m. on 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 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.

Bolting from the party

In 2005, Ka Jamie was asked by the CPP to go down from the mountains and form part of the secretariat for the formation of ACT Partylist, from ACT to ACT Partylist.

She became a witness to the movement’s plan to form legal entities to be in support of the armed struggle, like the formation of ACT Partylist, when she  was getting direct instructions from the Head Secretariat of KAGUMA – CPP/NPA-NDF who  were ka Cesar and Ka Garry. They were both being seen in the activities of ACT nationwide.

“Laking panlulumo ko, maging ng aking mga kasama nang makita ko kung paano ginamit ng NPA ang mga batang combatants.”

There were no more clear “demarcation line” being observed by the KAGUMA – CPP/NPA/NDF and ACT, because sometimes she was with ACT but sometimes she was with UG – KAGUMA/CPP/ACT.

This is one of the reasons why she decided to bolt from the communist party and ACT.

She said ACT no longer has a reputation because it delves into the national and even communist issues and set aside its mandate to serve the teachers.

“Noong una ay issues lang ng mga guro ang topic namin sa mga group discussion kung paano itaas ang aming karampot na sahod. Yung additional pay namin sa panahon ng eleksyon at paano kami ipagtanggol ng MPSTA sa mga electoral protest na inaakusahan kami ng mga pulitiko na political partisanship.”

Ka Jamie said: “ Dapat daw mass oriented, nationalist at scientific ang sistemang edukasyon ang aming sinusulong, may mga boycott, walk out  at work stoppage na kaming sinusulong.”

“Minsan naisip ko tama ba ang ganito, hindi yata ito ang sinumpaan kong tungkulin bilang guro, dahil sa bawat protestang sinusulong namin, mga kawawang bata ang mga napeperwisyu at pinagkakaitan namin ng karapatan sa edukasyon,” Ka Jamie added.

There were also organizers joining in from other groups offering to introduce to them the “ socialist education.”

She said there were a series of exposure trips in the rural areas to teach in the Pambansang Demokrasyang Paaralan (PADEPA), a platform to hold seminars to brainwash children fighters.

She claimed that her group stood as the lead educator in the PADEPA.

Here in PADEPA  , that Ka Jamie saw the young NPA fighters, whose age were as young  as 14 years old, who wasted their time away at PADEPA – NPA instead of going to the school.

She was later sent to meet counterparts in Negros, Caraga, Davao, Bicol, Northern Luzon, where most of the students that were being brainwashed were child NPA fighters. With a report from FRINSTON LIM

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