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NEW TACK WITH NPA REBELS

Ex-colonel in ‘shabu’ smuggling inquiry tapped for peace talks

MANILA, Philippines — The retired military colonel who was linked to the P6.4-billion shipment of “shabu” (crystal meth) that slipped past the Bureau of Customs in 2017 has been appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as head of an office in charge of the government’s shift to localized peace talks with the communist insurgents.

In an appointment paper signed by the President on March 25, Allen Arat Capuyan was designated executive director of the National Secretariat of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

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The task force is under the Office of the President.

The President terminated peace negotiations with the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 2017, opting instead to engage New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in localized peace talks.

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Before his appointment to the national task force, Capuyan served as presidential adviser for indigenous people’s concerns, with the rank of undersecretary, from April last year.

This was a month after Capuyan resigned as assistant general manager for security and emergency services of the Manila International Airport Authority after he was implicated by customs fixer Mark Taguba in the P6.4-billion drug smuggling during a Senate blue ribbon inquiry two years ago.

‘Big Brother’

In that inquiry, Taguba identified Capuyan as “Big Brother” who, he said, was part of an influential group that helped facilitate the release of his flagged shipment at customs without inspection. Drug enforcement officials later said the shipment contained shabu.

Taguba said Big Brother provided through e-mail the tariff codes that gave him access to the green lane, which exempts shipments from X-ray inspection.

Capuyan denied involvement in the drug smuggling and Taguba’s allegation that he received a check for P1 million for his assistance.

Taguba said he gave the check to Capuyan through a certain “Tita Nani,” whom he described as a member of the so-called Davao group that supposedly facilitated the release of shipments at customs for a fee.

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Garci tapes

In 2011, Capuyan was identified by Lt. Col. Pedro Sumayo Jr., a ranking official of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp), as the man behind the burning of the “Hello, Garci” tapes.

Sumayo had testified in another Senate hearing in 2005, that he gave the tapes to Capuyan, then Isafp’s chief of operations and intelligence, who then ordered him to burn it.

In the tape, exposed a year after the 2004 elections, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was heard in an incriminating phone call asking Virgilio Garcillano, a commissioner of the Commission on Elections, if she would still lead the count by more than 1 million over her opponent, Fernando Poe Jr.

When Arroyo made the call, the votes were still being counted.

Capuyan, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, was chief of the military’s Intelligence Service Unit in Davao City from 1997 to 2000, when the President was the  mayor and later the city’s congressman. —With Inquirer Research

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TAGS: Allen Arat Capuyan, communist rebels, CPP, local peace talks, NPA
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