Military denies abducting 3 men in Batangas
LUCENA CITY — The military on Tuesday denied the accusation by leftist groups that Army soldiers abducted three persons, including two sugar workers, in Batangas.
The 59th Infantry Battalion (IB) admitted that Alfred Manalo, Lloyd Descallar, and Angelito Balitostos, were in their custody but assailed the allegation that the soldiers took the three forcibly.
“The three personalities who are in our soldiers’ care came to us by their own decision, as such that it has legal bearing because they signed a waiver in the presence of their lawyer from PAO (Public Attorney’s Office) and DOJ (Department of Justice) prosecutor,” the 59th IB explained in a post on their Facebook page.
The military asserted that the custody of the three individuals was not a secret as their respective families were visiting them freely.
They emphasized that the three requested facing only visitors from their families and no one else.
The military did not provide specific information on how and why the three were taken into their custody. But they declared that they were ready to explain the details in court.
On Tuesday, the group “Desaparecidos” (Pamilya ng Desaparecidos para sa Katarungan) called on the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the alleged abductions of the three.
“We and their families are deeply concerned about the physical and mental well-being of the sugar workers who remain disappeared to this day,” Billet Batrallo, vice-chairperson of the “Desaparecidos,” said in a statement sent to the Inquirer.
Batrallo added: “This brings back memories of our harrowing experiences looking and searching for our loved ones, who were abducted by state forces, many of whom were never found.”
On March 28, the human rights group Karapatan-Southern Tagalog reported that armed men in Balayan town abducted Manalo and Descallar, volunteers from Sugarfolks Unity for Genuine Agricultural Reform (Sugar)-Batangas.
However, the Batangas police office has no report of the abduction of two men in Balayan from March 25 to 27.
But Balayan police reported the abduction around 4 p,m. on March 26 of Balitostos, a plumber in Barangay Lanatan. The victim’s relatives reported to the police that armed men in a car abducted Balitostos.