Army slaps Quezon youth activist with criminal charges
LUCENA CITY — The status of Quezon youth activist Alexandrea Pacalda as a communist rebel-returnee has been scrapped as the military slapped her with criminal charges.
Capt. Benedict Alfonso Cagatin, civil-military officer of the Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade based in Calauag town, disclosed that Pacalda was brought to the provincial prosecutor’s office in Lucena City on Saturday for the filing of criminal charges against her.
Cagatin declined to enumerate the charges.
Pacalda’s lawyer, Maria Sol Taule, confirmed that her client was brought to Lucena to face criminal charges.
She added: “They can’t win over Alexa despite detention of seven says in their camp so their game now is to file charges.”
Pacalda has been staying inside the Army’s camp in Calauag since Sept. 14 after her supposed voluntary surrender as an alleged member of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in Quezon.
The military reported that she also surrendered a handgun with bullets.
On Wednesday, the military released Pacalda’s sworn affidavit dated Sept. 17 where she admitted being an NPA rebel and she was surrendering because she wanted to “live a normal life.”
But later on Pacalda herself refuted the veracity of her own affidavit and declared that she signed the document under duress and against her will.
“I really did not surrender,” Pacalda said in a short video message sent to the Inquirer by Taule on Thursday night. “It’s only the Armed Forces of the Philippines that is saying I surrendered. Those from the Armed Forces are the ones saying I’m an NPA who surrendered.”
In a handwritten statement which the lawyer claimed was that of Pacalda which she also sent, the writer said she was made to sign thrice an affidavit of voluntary surrender while she was not in the right state of mind.
“I was deprived of sleep and food for 24 to 30 hours,” she said.
On Friday, Lt. Col. Dennis Cana, public information officer of the military’s Southern Luzon Command, hinted that Pacalda may find herself facing criminal charges over her video message.
Cana said Pacalda’s video message “will have a very strong effect on her surrender status” as her sincerity to lay down her arms “is put into question.”
Cana also strongly denied that soldiers in the Army camp “mentally tortured her, did not treat her well and did not feed her for more than 30 hours.”/lzb