EX-STUDENT ACTIVISTS DENY ABDUCTION BY MILITARY
TWO former student activists who were recruited to the New People’s Army debunked claims by Karapatan-Cagayan Valley that they were abducted by soldiers of the Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade.
Cedric Casano and Patricia Nicole Cierva, from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and University of the Philippines, respectively, said that they surrendered to the military, not abducted as claimed by the organization.
Casano and Cierva said they surrendered in Barangay Cabiraoan Gonzaga, Cagayan on May 16, 2023, not May 18, 2023 as reported by Karapatan in its social media account dated May 25, 2023.
National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Executive Director Ernesto Torres Jr. said the government is “winning the war” against communist terrorist groups and urged the remaining rebels to come down and surrender.
“Napakahalaga na ma-sustain ang peace gains natin, lalo na sa hanay ng kabataan. Naniniwala tayo na ang focus ng recruitment ng CTGs ay nasa kabataan for obvious reasons, political survival, capitalizing on the innocence of the youth,” Torres said.
Earlier, Casano and Cierva along with 18 other surrenderees met Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba, the head of the Provincial Task Force-ELCAC and other high-ranking military officials wherein they were warmly welcomed to the folds of the law.
“Alam ko ang laro sa insurhensiya. Ang mga dati niyong kasama na nagbalik-loob nasa kapitolyo na at kasama ko sila. Hindi malayong maging kayo ay makakasama ko rin kung nanaisin ninyong itama ang inyong maling nagawa, dahil lahat tayo ay naghahanap ng solusyon para maibsan ang kahirapan,” the governor said.
Cierva assured their former comrades that they were being treated well by the military.
“Sa mga kasamahan namin sa labas na nagsasabing itinago kami, eto kami at nasa maayos na kalagayan. Wala kaming naranasan na anumang maltreatment mula sa kasundaluhan kaya wala silang dapat ipag-alala. We’re looking forward sa panibagong yugto ng aming buhay at handa kaming makipagtulungan,” Cierva said.
Casano said he lost the “will to fight ” after he experienced the hardships and witnessed the horrifying senseless deaths of his former comrades from intensified military operations.
“Sa loob ng 12 taon, alam kong mahirap paniwalaan na sa loob lamang ng 2 linggo ay nabura na lahat ang mga prinsipyo na dahilan ng pagtaya ng buhay. Ngunit naniniwala ako na ito ay isang proseso. Ito ang bunga ng sakripisyo ng mga kasundaluhan at kapulisan kaya kami nandito, kaharap niyo na walang dalang armas,” he added.