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Crippled NPA fighter hopes to raise money for P600,000 bail

/ 05:59 PM February 06, 2014

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Almost three years after she was wounded, captured and placed under hospital arrest, former New People’s Army (NPA) fighter Vanessa delos Reyes still wishes to be free but doubts the government could grant it through humanitarian reasons alone.

“My birthday wish? It’s to get out of here,” said the 29-year-old former NPA fighter inside the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), skillfully rolling her wheelchair before student activists who came to cheer her on her birthday on February 4.

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“But it’s obvious letting me out for humanitarian reason is no longer acceptable to the government, but I still wish to be released, even on bail,” said Delos Reyes.

As hope for the peace talks between the government and the communist-led NPA has been dimming, Delos Reyes said she would have to raise money for her bail, which the court has pegged at P600,000.

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After her capture in May 2011, when she was seriously wounded in an encounter with government soldiers in Davao Oriental, the lean and soft-spoken former fighter has been recuperating inside the SPMC compound, under close security watch by the police.

Delos Reyes, whose wound has affected her spinal column and who could no longer move about on her own without a wheelchair, was slapped with four counts of frustrated murder in July 2011, barely two months after her capture.

The group calling themselves Free Vanessa delos Reyes Movement has repeatedly urged the government to release her on humanitarian grounds but after almost three years spent in captivity, Delos Reyes said she was losing hope that government would grant her wish.

“I can hardly expect that from the government, who even refused to recognize that political prisoners exist in this country,” she said.

She said the Aquino government continued to treat political prisoners like common criminals, by charging them with common crimes like murder, when they were merely fighting for their political beliefs.

Delos Reyes was seriously wounded while trying to save a seriously wounded comrade in an encounter with government troops near the Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel town in Davao Oriental. Later, former vice mayor, now mayor Rodrigo Duterte had airlifted her from a nearby hospital in Bislig, Surigao del Sur, where she and two companions were hospitalized, and brought her to the SPMC hospital in Davao.

The National Democratic Front earlier demanded for the release of more than 300 political prisoners in different parts of the country as goodwill gesture in continuing the stalled peace talks in the country.

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TAGS: Armed conflict, bail, communist rebellion, Crime, detention, Hospital Arrest, Insurgency, law and justice, New People's Army, News, NPA fighters, rebellion, Vanessa delos Reyes
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