There are signs that Dennis Rodinas was tortured, his wife says. The military asserts that he was a leader of the NPA in Western Mindanao and that an “explosive component” was found on him. His family says the charges are fabricated.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Church worker Dennis Rodinas, who was earlier reported missing by his family, has been found, but the military has filed charges against him in a Tangub City court – charges that his wife said were fabricated.
Rodinas, 35, a lay worker and member of the Protestant church United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP), was arrested by a police team in Tangub City early morning on Monday. His wife, Deana Febra, said Rodinas could not be found since Monday night.
The Promotion of Church People’s Response, group of religious and lay workers that is monitoring cases of human-rights violations against members of the clergy, had earlier said Rodinas had not been accounted for as late as Wednesday night.
In a phone interview with Bulatlat, Febra said her husband was manhandled by his captors and was forced to answer questions even as he invoked his right to remain silent.
Febra said that on Tuesday, around 3 p.m., she saw her husband on board a pick-up truck with license plates RSA 717 parked in front of the Regional Trial Court in Tangub City.
Febra and members of the quick reaction team organized by the UCCP were then at the Philippine National Police (PNP) station looking for Rodinas. The PNP station and the RTC were adjacent.
“I asserted my right to see him,” Febra told Bulatlat. She said soldiers of the 55th Infantry Battalion (IB) were all over the place. She was able to talk to her husband briefly.
Febra said Lt. Col Raymundo Acorda and Police Inspector Alwin Baclao of the Provincial Regional Mobile Unit (PRMU) were the ones who brought her husband to the RTC. At that time, Febra said the charges filed against her husband were not clear.
Rodinas was sent back to the 55th IB headquarters in Langub, Calamba town in Misamis Occidental. “They told me my husband was under military custody,” Febra said.
The next day, Rodinas was brought to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Tangub City. Febra later learned that her husband was being charged with illegal possession of explosives.
From the BJMP in Tangub, Rodinas was transferred to BJMP in Ozamiz City. But the officer in charge in Ozamiz City refused to accept Rodinas due to the absence of papers from BJMP Tangub. Later that day, Rodinas was brought back to BJMP in Tangub City.
“The military considers him a high-risk detainee,” Febra said, explaining the attempt to transfer Rodinas to Ozamiz City.
Febra decried the violations on the rights of her husband.
“It was a warrantless arrest,” she said. Rodinas was arrested at a checkpoint in Villaba, Tangub City, at around 6 a.m. on Monday.
“The military turned him over to the PNP only after more than 36 hours,” Febra pointed out.
“He was mentally tortured. He was deprived of sleep. Even as he asserted his right to remain silent, he was forced by his handlers to answer questions. He was also beaten by military personnel,” Febra said.
The 55th IB claimed that Rodinas is a leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Western Mindanao.
In a report by The Mindanao Examiner, Lt. Steffani Cacho, a regional army spokeswoman, said Rodinas was captured during a combat operation launched by the Army’s 55th IB and the 10th Regional Mobile Group of the Philippine National Police.
Cacho said they recovered components for explosives, a laptop, five units of cellular phones, a Palmtop and subversive documents from Rodinas. Cacho claimed Rodinas was also behind several murders in the province.
Febra denied the accusations against her husband. “It’s not true. The explosive compound allegedly found was planted.”
A certification from UCCP’s Bishop Constante Claro of the Southern Mindanao Jurisdiction states that Rodinas, also a son of a UCCP pastor, was involved in the program on ecology and environment protection of the different churches in Mindanao from April 1998 to May 2001.
Febra said Rodinas continues to serve as a staff of the said program under the National Churches of Christ in the Philippines (NCCP).
Febra called on the authorities to release her husband. “He is innocent,” she said. (Bulatlat.com)