Tagged as Reds, 2 UP graduates seek freedom
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Two University of the Philippines (UP) graduates, who were accused by the military of being communist rebels, have been languishing in jail for two years without court trial in Nueva Ecija province, according to their lawyers.
Gerald Salonga and Guiller Martin Cadano, both members of the militant youth group Anakbayan, sought their temporary release in a petition for bail they filed at the Regional Trial Court in San Jose City on Thursday.
Their lawyers said the two had been mistaken for New People’s Army (NPA) members by Army soldiers who arrested them in 2014. Salonga was then 24 while Cadano was 22.
“It is unfortunate that the phenomenon of political prisoners during martial law of former President Ferdinand Marcos has persisted … as government arrests dissenters and activists,” former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, a human rights lawyer, said in a statement.
Colmenares said the “snail-paced resolution of this case and similar cases of politically motivated arrests hinder the peace process needlessly and cause undue suffering on these young men.”
The Duterte administration and the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines are scheduled to resume negotiations to end one of the world’s longest running insurgency next week in Oslo, Norway.
Soldiers belonging to the Army’s 7th Infantry Division arrested Salonga and Cadano on Aug. 9, 2014, while they were doing research for a proposed road project of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Barangay Padilla in Carranglan town in Nueva Ecija.
Salonga has a degree in psychology while Cadano has a degree in business management, both from UP Clark. They were held for allegedly possessing unlicensed weapons and explosives.
The Army and Nueva Ecija police said in separate statements that their agents were serving an arrest warrant for suspected NPA commander Ely Taray (also known as Ka Emong) when they found Salonga and Cadano, his supposed companions.
They claimed that the two were members of the Platoon-Nueva Ecija-Nueva Vizcaya-Eastern Pangasinan of the NPA and served as “platoon guides operating in the hinterlands of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Eastern Pangasinan.” Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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