‘We felt betrayed, hoodwinked,’ NTF-Elcac says after 2 activists’ bombshell revelation
MANILA, Philippines — Officials of the anticommunist task force felt “betrayed” and “hoodwinked” after the two missing environment activists they presented to the media still revealed that they were abducted by soldiers, countering the government’s version of events.
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) also said they were “appalled” and “saddened” after Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro made the revelation, saying their pronouncements “parroted the propaganda lines of Leftist groups.”
“We felt betrayed,” the NTF-Elcac said in a statement. “We were hoodwinked.”
“The holding of the press conference was imbued with a tremendous amount of good faith, notwithstanding the unimaginable outcome of the same,” it added.
Nevertheless, the task force said they stand by the official report of the Philippine National Police in Bataan province as well as the account of the Philippine Army.
Authorities claim that Tamano and Castro surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 70th Infantry Battalion in Doña Remedios Trinidad in Bulacan on September 12.
But the activists insisted that they were abducted by armed men in Orion, Bataan on September 2.
“Whatever caused their sudden change of heart is beyond us,” they also said.
“The NTF-Elcac stands by the position of the 70th Infantry Battalion under LtCol. Ronnel Dela Cruz on the circumstances surrounding the surrender of Tamano and Castro, backed up by the duo’s respective affidavits narrating their whereabouts from the time they decided to leave the underground movement until their safe arrival at the Battalion headquarters with the help of a friend,” the task force also said, referring to the documents which Tamano and Castro said were signed under duress.
After NTF-Elcac’s press conference, the custody of Tamano and Castro was transferred to the Commission on Human Rights.
Meanwhile, the left-leaning human rights watchdog Karapatan who first exposed the disappearance of Tamano and Castro said that the government should be held liable for what happened to the activists.
“We hold accountable the government authorities responsible for the abduction and now the possible illegal detention, coercion and psychological torture of Jonila and Jhed,” Karapatan said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The exposé of Jonila and Jhed, in their own words, of their abduction by the military, speaks volumes for the many victims of abduction and enforced disappearance, the wave of attacks against activists and rights defenders under the current dispensation,” they added.