DAVAO CITY: The Philippine Army’s 71st Infantry battalion has debunked the allegation of a militant human rights group that two individuals who were suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were tortured and burned.
Lt. Col. Esteveyn Ducusin, commander of the Army’s 71st battalion, said no trooper would do such heinous acts as these were contrary to the mandate of the military to serve and protect the people, adding that state troops strictly adhere to the Anti-Torture Law of 2009.
“The issue can be considered as black propaganda to deviate people and to further threaten NPA members who want to go back to the folds of the law because it creates an impression that surrenderers are mistreated and abused,” Ducusin said.
In a press statement released by Karapatan on March 2, 2018, it claimed that January Mensis, 22 and alias “Jerry,” 17, were reportedly abducted on Nov. 28, 2017 and were “falsely accused” as thieves by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Tagum City.
After being cleared, Karapatan claimed that the two were turned over to the 71st IB, brought to the camp and were tortured.
On Dec. 6, 2017, the two were allegedly brought to a mountainous area in Compostela Valley and were thrown to a pit where soldiers tried to burn them alive.
“The 71st IB troopers are professional and disciplined, committed to respect human rights and adhere in International Humanitarian Law and it would be a privilege for us to be investigated to expose of the truth,” Ducusin said.
He said the 71st IB welcomed any legitimate investigation to prove its innocence on the issue.
Ducusin said Karapatan wanted to make an impression that communist rebels who surrender would be tortured, citing the increasing number of NPA members and supporters who have surrendered to the government.
The military reported that as of March this year, a total of 418 NPA members and supporters voluntarily surrendered to the battalion.
The former rebels were set to attend the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (Tesda) livelihood training programs, which are projects aimed at helping them reintegrate into society.
On March 2, there were 15 personalities who were apprehended within the area and sent to jail, including bomb makers, Special Partisan Unit members, and some alleged drug personalities.
“This has gained the support and respect from the civilian community. They are able to build a school building in Maragusan, the water system in Maco, and distributed school supplies, bags and chairs within Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte,” the commander said.
“All of these accomplishments have paved way for anti-government groups to create gorge destroying the mission of Philippine Army especially 71st IB who are performing their duties and responsibilities in attaining peace and order for the progress of the community,” Ducusin said. PNA