“The enforced disappearance of Ka Alex clearly demonstrates the Aquino government’s continuing attacks against farmers demanding their rights to the lands they till.” – KMP
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the disappearance of their provincial chairperson.
The two groups are now demanding that the Aquino government and the AFP immediately surface Alex Arias, 56, chairman of the Pagkakaisa’t Ugnayan ng mga Magsasaka sa Laguna (PUMALAG – KMP). They said that Arias was was abducted by suspected state security forces last April 7.
According to the KMP, Arias, 56, was driving a motorcycle on his way home to Liliw, Laguna last Saturday when he was waylaid by by armed men in Brgy. Bubukal in Sta. Cruz town. The armed men, believed to be elements of the 1st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, were, according to witnesses, riding a van also escorted by a number of motorcycles.
KMP deputy secretary general Randall Echanis said the peasant leader’s abduction and disappearance can be laid at the door of the Aquino administration and the military.
“The enforced disappearance of Ka Alex clearly demonstrates the Aquino government’s continuing attacks against farmers demanding their rights to the lands they till,” he said.
Local residents in Barangay Tuy Baanan in Liliw, Laguna where Arias resides have testified that soldiers have been looking for the peasant leader since the AFP put up an army detachment in the village in March.
“Ka Alex is an active peasant leader in the region. Being the chairperson of Pumalag, he is also a member of the regional council of Kasama-TK and the national council of KMP,” said secretary general of Kasama-TK Axel Pinpin.
Pinpin, a former political detainee imprisoned by the previous administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, stressed that illegal arrest and detention are human rights violations and criminal acts that continue to be perpetrated by the Aquino administration.
“There is no reason for us to doubt that state elements are involved in the illegal arrest and disappearance of Ka Alex. We will not be surprised if later on they will be presenting Ka Alex to the media as another top-ranking official of the New People’s Army carrying guns and explosives,” Pinpin said.
In the meantime, the AFP has already released a report saying that Arias was a member of the NPA and was, in fact, a finance officer of the armed revolutionary organization.
“Alexander B. Arias AKA ADAN/DOROY, presently the Finance Officer of Platun Magnum, Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC), NPA unit operating in Laguna Province was arrested by joint elements of PNP Regional Intelligence Unit 4A and 202nd Infantry Brigade, 2ID, Philippine Army at an AFP/PNP checkpoint at Brgy Bubucal, Sta Cruz, Laguna by virtue of Warrant of Arrest CC # 11-3248 & 11-3249 for kidnapping with murder filed at RTC Mauban, Quezon,” said the AFP report.
The military is claiming that Arias, among others, is responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the late Ex-Pfc Edelberto Eclavia at Sitio Laguio, Brgy Cagsiay 3, Quezon in 2006.
“During his surveillance and arrest, Arias’ identity was confirmed by a former NPA member and first-hand witness on the murder of PFC Eclavia. The former NPA-turned witness said that Arias was a high-ranking member of Platun Magnum when the killing transpired,” the AFP report went on.
No other proof to substantiate the charges were presented by the AFP in its report, only the statement of a supposed former NPA.
Col Ivan F Samarita, Commander, 202nd Infantry Brigade, 2IDPA, said that before the arrest, Arias was frequently seen by the residents roaming around Brgy Bubukal for the past days. Upon notice of an unidentified and suspicious person, residents reported his presence to government authorities.
“The military and the police will effect the arrest all NPA members in Region 4A who have standing warrants of arrest in order for Laguna Province and the rest of the Region to attain a peaceful environment. The communists should desist from committing crimes and atrocities against the people but instead to peaceably pursue their objectives within our democratic framework. Pursuing their goals thru terroristic means disgusts people and hinders development. This will prompt us, law enforcers, to file charges against them that will surely result to their arrests” the army official said.
Human rights groups are long been campaigning against what they said was the AFP’s tactic of illegally arresting civilians, wrongly accusing them of being NPA members, and then presenting them to the media as NPA.