Army denies holding Karapatan team on rights mission in Rizal
SAN PEDRO CITY, Philippines—The military denied allegatons that a team from the militant rights group Karapatan, which was said to have gone missing since Friday, was under its custody.
The Karapatan on Saturday dispatched another team to Rizal province, several hours after losing contact with a group of 75 that was allegedly being held by the Philippine Army. Karapatan secretary general Christina Palabay said their last contact with the first group was around 4 p.m. Friday.
She said a text coming from Gloria Rodriguez, Karapatan’s coordinator in Rizal, said they were traveling on foot in Barangay Calawis, Antipolo City, when they were “held” by members of the Army’s 80th Infantry Batallion.
“The report was not true. No one went up that area,” said Captain Xy-zon Meneses, public affairs chief of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in Rizal.
According to Palabay, the first team left for Rizal province on Friday noon to go to a community to investigate reports that two Dumagat tribe members died in an encounter between the soldiers and communist rebels on Thursday.
Meneses confirmed the encounter, but said no one from either side of the forces, died.
Palabay said in a phone interview Saturday that the area was not accessible to vehicles so that they had to walk for around four hours, adding that phone signal was usually weak in that area. Rodriguez, however, was still able to send them a text message, she said.
“It’s been several hours already (since the last contact) it really is becoming worrisome,” Palabay said.
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