Arrested to force his son to surrender

“They said they would not release me until my son surfaces.”


CAMP BAGONG DIWA, Taguig City – For nearly two years now, Cenon Sambola has been detained for being the father of a person being sought by the military.

Sambola, 61, was arrested on Jan. 28, 2015 while he was cooking dinner inside their home in barangay Pasay, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur. Authorities brought him to Camp Nakar, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command in Lucena City. Soldiers told Sambola to ask his eldest son Gerson to surrender to authorities.

“They said my son is a NPA [New People’s Army],” Sambola told Bulatlat in an interview. “They said they would not release me until my son surfaces.”

Sambola was charged with the murder of a certain Master Sargeant Reynaldo Valdez who was killed in an armed encounter on April 30, 2004 in barangay Bayanihan, San Narciso, Quezon.

“I told the soldiers, ‘Should Juan be made accountable for the sins of Pedro’?” Sambola recalled.

Gerson himself was arrested in 2011 but was eventually released in 2013 after posting bail for a rebellion case.

His father, a longtime peasant leader in the community, was the easy prey. Sambola had been in Del Gallego town since 1990s, taking care of the two youngest of his eight children.

Sambola spent a year at the Gumaca District Jail where 80 detainees were cramped in a cell suitable for only 25. He was transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City early this year.

Sambola is among the political prisoners slated for release when peace talks resumed between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Besides being an elderly, Sambola has hypertension.

“Since October, we were expecting to be released,” Sambola said. “Then, the government took back its promise.”

When paralegal volunteers from Karapatan checked out his record in different jails, Sambola was surprised to know that three more cases were filed against him. The charges include murder, robbery, homicide, kidnapping and multiple murder for incidents which allegedly occurred as far back as 1989 and 2003.

Sambola said the newly discovered cases from various courts aim to prolong his detention.

As 2016 is about to end, Sambola remains hopeful that all political prisoners would be released.

The old petite farmer does not pin his hopes on Duterte but on the continuing struggle of the Filipino people for justice. (

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