By JUSTIN UMALI
CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – A political prisoner is currently in critical condition following a shootout initiated by a prisoner inside the Calapan City Jail in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro, September 7.
Jeffrey Bajo Delos Reyes is one of the five victims injured by Edison Sulit Sampaga’s shooting spree. According to reports, Sampaga managed to smuggle in a pistol and shot a certain Lowelyn Laguerta Mendoza multiple times, before proceeding to shoot the other detainees. The spree ended when Sampaga shot himself.
Delos Reyes is currently at the provincial hospital in Calapan City and is in critical condition after being shot in the head. He is 37 years old and has been in jail since September 2016.
A former combatant for the New People’s Army, Delos Reyes was arrested by policemen in plainclothes on September 19, 2016 in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro. At the time, there was an active ceasefire in place between the newly-inaugurated Rodrigo Duterte administration and the NPA, in line with the Duterte administration’s initial gestures of resuming peace talks between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
No arrest warrant was ever issued to Delos Reyes, who is charged with two counts of murder, frustrated murder, and arson. The NDFP stated that Delos Reyes’s arrest amid the ceasefire proved the police was “insincere towards the ongoing peace talks.” Delos Reyes himself asserted that as a combatant, he cannot be charged with crimes for casualties against combatants during war.
In a previous statement, Buhay na Alay para sa Nagkakaisang Mindoro (Bayanimo) described the arrest as “an attempt to sabotage the peace talks between the government and the NDFP.” Human rights alliance Karapatan noted that Delos Reyes’s arrest was part of a larger series of ceasefire violations in 2016, despite Duterte’s declaration of an indefinite unilateral ceasefire at the time.
Peace talks between the Duterte administration and the NDFP broke down in 2017, citing “violations” on both sides. Attempts to restart peace negotiations failed in 2018 when Duterte unilaterally pulled out of talks. Since then, the Duterte administration has been firm in its stance of not engaging in peace talks, instead opting for “localized peace talks” between individual units of the NPA.
Farmers’ rights organization Tanggol Magsasaka is currently assisting the Delos Reyes family in seeking information and financial assistance for Delos Reyes’s medical expenses. Donations and further information can be sent through 0930 914 6435.(RVO)