Quezon activist flees from Karapatan, points to comrades as abductors – Army exec
LUCENA CITY, Philippines – The military has turned the tables on its enemy and accused the New People’s Army and leftist groups of abducting an activist and concocting tales to discredit Army soldiers in Quezon.
Colonel Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 201st Brigade operating in Quezon, claimed that contrary to reports by militant groups, Franklin Barrera was not abducted and tortured by the military but by the communist rebels.
Año said Barrera, whom he identified as an NPA rebel, escaped from Karapatan’s headquarters here Sunday evening.
“Through the help of some civilian friends, he was able to contact an Army officer, who rescued him after his escape. He was afraid for his life that’s why he escaped from Karapatan,” Año said in an interview Monday morning.
He said Barrera will meet the media on Monday.
“He will reveal how he was abducted and tortured by his NPA comrades before turning him over to Karapatan in a hospital. He was used to serve as ‘props’ on their vilification campaign against the military,” Año said.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried to contact a Karapatan official in Quezon by cellphone to no avail.
Over the weekend, militant groups reported that Barrera, whom they claimed was an anti-mining and human rights activist, was abducted by military men in Lopez town, Quezon.
Karapatan, in their press statement, alleged that Barrera was knocked unconscious from behind with a hard object by one of his abductors and taken away in a red van.
Barrera later found himself in a house in Barangay San Isidro near the Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion detachment where he was able to escape and sought help from the human rights group, according to Karapatan.
“Karapatan’s report was a tall tale as part of their continuous propaganda to demonize the military,” Año said.
Militant party-list representatives cited Barrera’s abduction report in their call for Congress to conduct an investigation on the alleged ongoing militarization in Quezon province.
Año said he welcomed the planned Congress investigation.
“We’re in a democratic country. They are free to investigate and we welcome that. At least, we will be given the opportunity to refute these baseless accusations against us,” Año said.
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