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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, November 8, 2019
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Army unfazed by
call for House inquiry
BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

 

Unfazed by the congressional inquiry being pushed by the Makabayan bloc solons and counter-charges against state security forces that raided offices of militant organizations in Negros Occidental, Army Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo yesterday dared them to do it now.

Arevalo, who is the 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said that they had been waiting for it since the Sagay 9 incident, adding that they can even bring the whole Congress to Negros, if they would like to.

“We are not hiding something,” Arevalo said, pointing out that they have been challenging them to do it ever since, to determine who are the liars among them.

The Makabayan solons composed of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and his predecessors, Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, are presently conducting what they call a fact-finding mission in Negros Occidental, in connection with the mass arrest of activists and minors on Oct. 31, and Nov. 1.

Arevalo said that the Makabayan bloc solons are using Congress to scare them, and even challenged them to file charges against them before the Ombudsman now.

“We are serving the Republic of the Philippines. Are they also serving the Republic of the Philippines, or they are serving the Republic of Joma (Jose Maria) Sison?” Arevalo asked.

Sison is the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines living in exile in the Netherlands.

Claims that the AFP and PNP failed to silence government critics, following the release of more than 30 arrested personalities, were disputed by Arevalo who said it was a victory for the rule of law.

The victory of the rule of law is the victory of your AFP and PNP, he said, adding that they had been ordered by the court to conduct the search.

The simultaneous raids in Bacolod City yielded more than 30 firearms and explosives, the rescue of 13 minors and the arrest of 42 others, excluding the two others apprehended in Escalante City.

Capt. Cenon Pancito III, spokesman of the 3rd Infantry Division, reiterated that they abide by the rule of law, and their efforts from the start were within the legal boundaries.

“Any decision that the Fiscal (prosecutor) has rendered is respected, as it is the rightful office with the authority to determine, if, indeed, there is a probable cause,” Pancito said, in response to the dismissal of charges against 31 of the arrested personalities.

The case was never weakened with the dismissal of charges against the 31 personalities, he also said, noting that government prosecutors had ruled that those people were incidental to the commission of the crime.

The fact still remains that there was a crime committed for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, Pancito said.

As to allegations of planting of evidence, Pancito said that the AFP and PNP rely on the basis of evidence recovered.

“We hope that Colmenares and his colleagues will show by their little intellect that by their accusation of planting evidence, they are bound to substantiate their allegation, otherwise, they are no different from other criminals, who, after being caught, will just rebut the allegation with illogical accusations.

As to the allegation of unending military operations in Negros, Pancito said the AFP and PNP will never back down in their efforts to fulfill their promise to the people of Negros to liberate them from the insurgency.

“As long a crime is being committed, we will do our task of maintaining peace and order in the area,” he added.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday that the release of 31 personalities indicated that the justice system is rolling, apparently referring to the 21 terminated workers of Vallacar Transit Incorporated, who were at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Lacson also justified the raids as legitimate, as the authorities were given a search warrant.*

 

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