Arrested Gabriela – Caraga leader under police custody — PRO 13
SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur – The ailing 76-year-old leader of women’s rights group Gabriela is now under the custody of the police’s Regional Intelligence Division, the spokesperson of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) confirmed.
Maj. Jennifer Ometer, PRO 13 public information officer, said in a phone interview that Atheliana “Atel” Hijos, secretary general of Gabriela in the Caraga region, was arrested on Tuesday and brought to an undisclosed location where she was under detention even if she is already bedridden due to various illnesses.
“She should face her charges that is why we don’t divulge the location of her detention, but rest assured (that) she is in good hands and health personnel are attending to her condition,” Ometer added.
Ometer said Hijos’ right to counsel was not denied, and that they are still processing the two separate charges she is facing.
She added that the location of Hijos’ detention is kept under wraps since she is considered “a high ranking New People’s Army leader.”
Hijos is facing kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges due to her alleged participation in the abduction of a civilian militia in Sibagat town on December 18, 2018.
Some 468 people were allegedly involved in the Sibagat incident, based on the arrest warrant issued by the Bayugan City regional trial court.
Gabriela said Hijos was arrested in Barangay Kinabjangan, Nasipit town in Agusan del Norte.
In a separate statement, human rights group Karapatan called the charges against Hijos “a blatant lie considering Atel’s senior age and frail physical condition.”
“Atel has pulmonary tuberculosis and hypertension, and she had a mild stroke. She has been bedridden, and she has difficulties (in) walking, at times using a wheelchair. How can an elderly woman, with such a frail build like Atel’s, possibly commit all the crimes alleged against her?” Karapatan asked.
The charges against Hijos are the same ones hurled against Dr. Natividad Castro, a regional leader of the human rights group Karapatan,
Castro was released from the Agusan del Sur provincial jail after 42 days of detention after acting Presiding Judge Fernando Fudalan, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 7 in Bayugan City dismissed her case last March 25.
But last June 16, Judge Ferdinand Villanueva, executive judge of RTC Branch 7, ordered the re-arrest of Castro who was tagged by the military as a high ranking communist guerrilla.
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