9 suspects in NPA raid transferred to BJMP cell in Davao Sur
DIGOS CITY, Philippines – The nine men arrested for the March 10 raid by communist rebels in Matanao, Davao del Sur, were transferred to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s district jail here on Tuesday.
The order to transfer the so-called Matanao 9 from the holding cells of Padada and Hagonoy police stations was issued by Judge Carmelita Sarno-Davin.
As in the early days of their detention, security was also tight when Johnrey Moher, Jolito Sales, Rofo B Nabundasan, Roger Natunton, Christopher Sales, and Joey Alberca, all from North Cotabato; Noel Alba from South Cotabato; Lodemer Gama Bagumbayan from Davao del Sur; and Reynante Orot Paradise from General Santos City, were remanded to the district jail.
Superintendent Querubin Manalang, city police director, said the police could not take chances as the prisoners were considered high-profile.
Manalang, however, said the transfer of the prisoners was orderly and that no militant group staged any protest.
The nine men were accused of taking part in the deadly raid in the Matanao police station in March, in which two policemen were killed.
The military said they were captured during the pursuit operation against the raiders.
The New People’s Army had disowned the suspects and said they were “hapless civilians who were on their way to attend a fiesta in Barangay Savoy in Matanao.”
“They were illegitimately accosted,” Dencio Madrigal, an NPA spokesperson, said.
During Tuesday’s transfer, the suspects also reiterated their innocence.
“Naalaan ra jud mi sir (We were mistaken for rebels sir),” Alberca said.
Senior Superintendent Michael John Dubria, Davao del Sur police chief, said only the court could declare if the suspects were innocent or guilty as charged.
“Our job is to make sure they stay in jail until the court makes its decision,” he said.
Dubria said the provincial police office would help secure the Matanao 9 and that a contingent would be sent to the district jail to beef up the BJMP force manning it.
“We will provide as many men as needed,” he said.
Meanwhile, court sources said Davin would be scheduling the arraignment of the suspects soon.
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