Arrested by the military on false charges of child abuse allegedly for recruiting a minor to the NPA, which has already been dismissed, and rebellion, sisters Emilia and Maricris Quirante have been languishing in jail for more than a year now. Worse, the fact that the city has no fiscal for the past three months has been delaying the hearings.
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Vol. VIII, No. 27, August 10-16, 2008
GUIHULNGAN CITY – A local peasant woman leader and her sister have been detained at the district jail here for charges of child abuse and rebellion.
Emilia Quirante, municipal chairperson of Kaugmaon, a peasant organization affiliated with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP of Peasant Movement of the Philippines), her brother Rene, chairperson of the local chapter of Anakpawis partylist and her sister Maricris were arrested on March 24, 2007.
Rene has been released after the case against him has been dismissed.
In an interview, Emilia related that the policemen presented a search warrant, indicating that high-powered rifles were to be found inside their house. She said the police found a dilapidated air gun that their father used for hunting.
Another gun, a 45 caliber pistol, was shown to her, Emilia said. She said that the pistol was planted by the police.
Meanwhile, Maricris just got back from a training funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) when she was arrested. She served as a teacher in a literacy program for children in different rural areas in Mindanao.
Emilia said that the police claimed they also seized “subversive” documents.
Emilia said she found out that the witnesses who testified against her are sons of members of Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu).
On the charge of child abuse, she was accused of recruiting Renante Magallon, a minor, to the NPA. Emilia denied the accusations saying that she did not even know Magallon.
The witness for the rebellion case Christopher Garde claimed that Emilia told him, “Kung naniwala pa sana sa akin ang tatay mo, di siya mamamatay.” (If only your father continued to believe in me, he would not be killed.)
Emilia said that the NPA admitted killing Garde’s father for alleged cases of murder, physical abuse and theft.
Meanwhile, Emilia’s neighbor named Arnel, 16, wrote in his affidavit that Magallon took him to the military camp. They were with Dakila Reyes, an intelligence agent, said Emilia. Arnel said he saw Emilia’s name in a list with the amount P50,000 written beside it.
Emilia suspected she was ordered killed and the P50,000 could be the reward. She said her neighbors warned her that armed men had been asking about her.
Emilia related that before the arrest, the military tagged her as a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).
She said that during that time, the military was campaigning for the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD). Emilia was then campaigning for Anakpawis.
She said, “NPA daw ako kasi marami akong tauhan.” (They said I am an NPA because I have many followers.) Emilia said that the residents refused to go to meetings called for by the military.
Emilia said the military told the local residents that she would ask for money to buy rice and cellphone with camera. “Di naman naniwala ang mga tao.” (The people did not believe them.)
On Dec. 8, 2006, about 36 elements of the army led by 2nd Lt. Dave Angelitod went to their house and told her to surrender to ANAD. Emilia said that Angelitod warned her that if she does not surrender, her family would be implicated.
‘Fight goes on’
The charge of child abuse has already been dismissed for lack of evidence. The rebellion case is up for reinvestigation.
However, the regional trial court of Guihulngan City has no fiscal for three months now. No hearings have been conducted in the past months, Emilia said.
Emilia said that the fight continues. “Wala nang atrasan,” (There’s no turning back.) she said.
She said that intensive military operations affect the livelihood of farmers and the military presence brings no development to the people of Guihulngan.(Bulatlat.com)