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2 arrested UP grads forced to admit Red ties, says group

Suspects not harmed, says AFP

SAN FERNANDO CITY— Two University of the Philippines (UP) graduates who were arrested by government troops on Saturday were forced to admit that they were communist rebels during an intense interrogation, a human rights watchdog said.

Sr. Cecil Ruiz, Karapatan chair in Central Luzon, told the Inquirer on Monday that Gerald Salonga and Guiller Cadano were blindfolded when a team of soldiers and policemen took them from a house in Barangay R.T. Padilla in Carranglan town, Nueva Ecija province.

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“Much of their ordeal was psychological torture [rather] than physical torture. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives when they were just watching television in a house,” said Ruiz, who met Salonga and Cadano at the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) office in Cabanatuan City on Sunday.

The two are not New People’s Army (NPA) members but organizers of the party-list groups Kabataan and Anakbayan, she said.

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Military and police officials on Monday denied Ruiz’s claims, saying Salonga and Cadano were treated well and examined by a doctor at Eduardo L. Joson Memorial Hospital in Cabanatuan.

Citing a report from Nueva Ecija police, Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, Central Luzon police director, said Salonga and Cadano were not harmed and forced to admit that they were rebels.

“In fact, the suspects’ families were present on Sunday before they were presented to the provincial prosecutor for inquest proceedings. They underwent medical examination and the doctor’s findings showed that they were clear. So what Karapatan is saying is speculation,” Petrasanta said.

Senior Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, Nueva Ecija police director, said hospital records would show that Salonga and Cadano were in good physical condition.

Salonga, 24, and Cadano, 22, obtained degrees in psychology and business management, respectively, from the UP Diliman Extension Program in Pampanga at Clark Freeport.

The Army’s 7th Infantry Division, in a news release on Sunday, said Salonga and Cadano were companions of Ely Taray, also known as “Omeng,” who eluded arrest in Saturday’s operations. Taray is said to have standing warrants for attempted murder in 2006 and murder in 2008.

Interviewed on Sunday, Salonga and Cadano denied knowing Taray. They said they were in Carranglan to organize farmers who would be displaced by a road project that the government would undertake in cooperation with Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

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“The expressway that would be built under the Dalton Pass Eastern Alignment Project threatens farmers there with displacement. Our investigation showed that the public-private partnership between the government and Jica is a threat to the farmers’ livelihood,” Cadano said.

The two, according to the 7th Infantry Division, are platoon guides of Platoon Nueva Ecija-Nueva Vizcaya-Eastern Pangasinan of the NPA operating in Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya, and in the eastern section of Pangasinan province.

The 7th Infantry Division said government troops recovered two 9-mm pistols, bullets, two hand grenades and antigovernment documents from Salonga and Cadano. The troops are members of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Brigade, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the PPSC in Nueva Ecija.

Asked about the items recovered from them, Salonga said, “We have asked more knowledgeable people to handle this issue.”

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TAGS: 7th Infantry Division, Cecil Ruiz, Gerald Salonga, Guiller Cadano, Karapatan, New People's Army, Nueva Ecija
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