Family Insists AFP Abducted Leopoldo Ancheta

Despite the junking of the habeas corpus petition they filed against the military, the siblings of Leopoldo Ancheta insist that only the military has the motive and the means to abduct their brother.

Vol. VII, No. 22, July 8-14, 2007

The siblings of Leopoldo Ancheta vows to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) junking the habeas corpus petition they filed against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The decision of the CA was issued a year after the abduction of Leopoldo Ancheta.

Ancheta, a staff of the peace panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), was reportedly abducted by unidentified men believed to be military intelligence agents on June 24, 2006 in Barangay (village) Tuktukan, Guiguinto town in the province of Bulacan.

In a statement released to media, Ancheta’s siblings said witnesses saw their brother being taken to a silver Toyota Revo, its plate number covered with a black plastic bag. “Walang ibang magnanais na mahuli ang aming kapatid kundi ang militar,” (Only the military would be interested in arresting our brother.) the Ancheta siblings said in a statement.

Despite efforts to locate their brother, Ancheta remains missing.

The enforced disappearance of Ancheta was part of a series of abductions of NDFP peace panel consultants and their staff in mid-2006 when the military’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (Operational Plan Guard Freedom) was in full swing. This campaign has so far resulted in the extra-judicial killings of more than 860 civilians and activists, and the enforced disappearance of almost 200 individuals.

In mid-2006, four NDFP consultants were abducted in different parts of Luzon – Philip Limjoco in Dau, Pampanga on May 8, Rogelio Calubad (with his son, Gabriel) in Calauag, Quezon on June 17, Prudencio Calubid (with three companions) in Camarines Sur on June 24, and Ancheta, a staff of Calubid, who was taken later the same day.

Meanwhile, the peace negotiations between the Arroyo administration and the NDFP was stalled in 2004 when the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) failed to address the NDFP’s demand for the GRP to exert efforts to strike off the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) from the terror list of the U.S. and the European Union.

A target of harassments and surveillance

Ancheta’s siblings said their brother had been subjected to harassment and surveillance operations even during Martial Law. At that time, the family said, the (now defunct) MetroCom (Metropolitan Command of the Philippine Constabulary) raided the Ancheta home searching for Leopoldo who was then an activist leader.

Before Ancheta was abducted last year, his siblings said he was subjected to heavy surveillance. “Pag dumating sya sa bahay may kasunod na sya,” (Whenever he went home, there were suspicious persons tailing him.) the Ancheta family said in their statement. They said it is only the military who had the means to kill and abduct their brother.

Human rights summit

In response to the unabated killings and abductions of unarmed civilians nationwide, the Supreme Court (SC) will conduct a human rights summit called the “National Consultative Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances – Searching for Solutions” to be held on July 16-17, 2007 at the Manila Hotel.
In its statement released to media, the SC said the summit is “aimed at searching for holistic solutions and providing inputs to the SC in its objective of enhancing existing rules, or promulgating new ones, in the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, including the protection of the witnesses. Likewise, it aims to examine the concept of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances pursuant to the standards provided for by local and international laws, including United Nations instruments.”

Moreover, the summit also aims to revisit the rules of evidence and to explore more remedies for aggrieved parties aside from the writ of habeas corpus.

Members of the media, the academe and civil libertarians will be invited to the said summit. Participants will be broken into 12 groups for workshops. The groups’ reports will be the basis for the crafting of the new or improved rules in solving cases of human rights violations.(

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