Legislator condemns abduction of teacher, 5 others by military

ACT Teachers Party-List Antonio Tinio demanded the immediate release of Mrs. Lanie Latuga, a teacher of Dumagat children, and five others arrested in Rodriguez, Rizal, currently detained in an undisclosed military location.

Saying that human rights abuses continue despite AFP claims to the contrary, he strongly condemned the illegal arrest and detention of the six.

The civilians are still missing six days after their arrest by elements of the 16th and 59th Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army (PA) in Sitio Uron, Puray.  They were near the site of an encounter between the PA and New People’s Army (NPA) on November 7 when the soldiers arrested them upon the suspicion that they are NPA members or supporters.

Army officials have yet to issue an official statement on the abduction, nor have they revealed where the six, who are mostly women, are being kept.

“Teacher Lanie and her companions are the newest victims of a military establishment which—per the skewed, inhumane logic of Oplan Bayanihan—does not distinguish between combatants and civilians,” said Tinio.  “That they were arrested for being near the site of an encounter proves that there are more Palparans still running loose, victimizing militarized communities, unchecked by the AFP.”

Tinio called on officials of the 16th and 59th IB to surface the six and urgently demanded accountability from those responsible, noting that said units are notorious among the residents of their places of assignment for being human rights violators.

On October 16, 2011, three members of the 16th IB invited three girls into their camp in Rizal.  The minors testified that the soldiers drugged and abused them, and raped “Mutya,” 17.  On June 22 this year, elements of the 59th and 74th IB approached farmer Eduardo Dela Peña while he was tending his farm, punched and pointed a gun at him after accusing him of being a member of the NPA.

He and his family were forced to flee from their home due to continued harassment from the military.

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