By MACARIO PACANA
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — After almost a month since his arrest, Alfredo Mapano finally broke his silence, saying he will face the eight criminal cases filed against him.
In an interview, Mapano, allegedly a regular member of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, appeared healthy and well taken care of.
“They treat me well here, at least compared to the treatment I received when I was imprisoned during martial law, in which I was tortured,” Mapano said. Mapano is currently being detained at the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office’s Maharlika headquarters in Carmen, this city.
He said he has been treated humanely and given access to newspapers and even a television. He was never held incommunicado and has regular visiting rights, he said.
Acting city police chief Noel Armilla explained that there is no special treatment for Mapano. “It’s just that we have no cell for a political detainee. We cannot mix him with common criminals because he is a political violator,” Armilla said.
Mapano said he would have to face the eight criminal charges against him, six of which are nonbailable offenses. “These charges, I understand, are just to pin me down,” Mapano said, adding he is looking at one to five years until his Jasig coverage is finalized.
Jasig is the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, one of the agreements signed by the government and the National Democratic Front, of which Mapano reportedly served as a consultant entitled to Jasig protection. Mapano said his Jasig protection was still being processed at the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the NDF and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
Mapano said the resumption of the negotiations would test the sincerity of the government.
For his part, Armilla said he hopes that the way they treated Mapano would be a prelude to confidence building between the NDF and GRP.
“We hope that our treatment of him can develop confidence. In handling of political detainees, we are trying to show that government is not a tyrant and the democratic space is there,” he said.
Armilla added: “Belief in an idea cannot be surrendered, but we can talk.” He cited the militant organizations espousing the national democratic ideals that had participated in mainstream politics through the party-list system.
“The armed conflict won’t end if we continue being paranoid toward each other. We have offered our hand in peace,” Armilla said.
He said the Cagayan de Oro police would assist in finding a way to consolidate Mapano’s cases so they would not have to travel to different courts every time a case is heard “to avoid a security headache.”
When asked if the police could afford keeping Mapano at Maharlika headquarters since his cases might drag on for years, Armilla replied: “We can do it.” (Bulatlat.com)