Army probes NPA claim that abducted soldier works for illegal loggers
TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines – Communist rebels have gotten their wish that the military investigate the alleged involvement in illegal logging of a soldier whom they abducted two weeks ago and freed on Monday.
Col. Harold Cabreros, commander of the Army’s 1003rd Infantry Brigade, said the military would not condone the illegal activities of their men. Cpl. Rogelio Rosales of the 60th Infantry Battalion in Davao del Norte has been accused by the NPA of working for big illegal logging syndicates.
“We have to investigate his alleged involvement in nefarious activities. We don’t tolerate such misdemeanor,” Cabreros said following Rosales’ release.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who received Rosales from the communist rebels in a remote area of Talaingod town, said the soldier had admitted involvement in illegal logging activities in Davao del Norte.
“He asked for forgiveness,” he said.
The New People’s Army (NPA) said Rosales was working for logging syndicates that involved politicians, military men and police officers.
He was captured while “in the process of arranging for the transit of logs” in Florida village (in Kapalong) last May 3,” Ka Aris Francisco, spokesperson of the NPA’s Comval-North Davao-South Agusan Sub-Regional Command, said.
Francisco said aside from Davao del Norte, the illegal logging syndicates – known as the Big Four – have been operating in Compostela Valley.
Mayor Reynaldo Navarro of the upland town of Laak in Compostela Valley was among those the NPA accused of protecting illegal logging in the province.
Navarro has urged the NPA to stop “finger-pointing” and asked them to “join the campaign against illegal logging.”
“Illegal logging operations happen in the mountains and not in the lowlands. Who are the people in the mountains? If you (NPA) can find people engaging in illegal logging in your turfs, please do stop and apprehend them,” Navarro said.
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