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Rights group says 3 farmers beaten up by soldiers but military says otherwise

/ 06:23 PM October 07, 2019

Alexander Abiguna, of the group Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas, said the three—Christian Sabado, Anton Manoso and Edson Piczon—were beaten up before they were detained by members of the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion.

Sabado is member of the Northern Samar Small Farmers Association while Manoso and Piczon were watchmen of the village of Hinagonoyan, Catubig town, Northern Samar.

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Abiguna said the three were on their way to a village in Las Navas town, also in Northern Samar, to investigate a case of pest infestation in abaca plants in the town and also the impact of falling copra prices on coconut farmers when they were arrested by soldiers.

“They were made to lie face down on the ground while the soldiers stepped on them multiple times. It also appears that they were manhandled and physically abused upon arrest,” Abiguna said.

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He demanded the immediate release of the three farmers and condemned the alleged harrassment of civilians by the military.

The military denied the allegations, saying the three arrested farmers were not maltreated.

In a Facebook post, the 20th IB, said the three were members of New People’s Army.

The battalion, under Lt. Col. Juan Gullem, said the three arrested were carrying firearms, explosives and communist documents when accosted.

The military said Sabado, a native of Manila, admitted during interrogation that he was sent to Northern Samar for propaganda operations.

Manoso and Piczon, the military said, were regular NPA members.

The three were being “treated humanely in accordance with the rule of law,” said the battalion post.

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A video showing a clean shaved Sabado was posted, too, to deny claims he had been beaten up. Sabado spoke in the video about being treated well./TSB

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TAGS: abaca pest, Coconut, copra, Farmers, Interrogation, Military, Northern Samar, NPA, Propaganda, rebels
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