Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume IV, Number 19 June 13 - 19, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Home with Levi: Youngest Political Prisoner
old Levi Mabanan, the youngest political detainee in the country, was finally
released May 15 from the military camp in Catbalogan, Samar, where he was forced
to spend four years of his young life.
May 22, two human rights workers from the Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, the local
chapter of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) in
Samar, visited Levi in his new home. The name of place is being withheld upon
request by the family for fear of being placed under surveillance by the
like it here,” Levi said in the vernacular.
He told the human rights workers that he was happy with his release to
the custody of Ortiz, his favorite brother.
He has two younger brothers whom he is fond of, too, he said.
to his military captors’ claim that he was “captured in an encounter with
New People’s Army (NPA) rebels,” Levi was with his grandfather when
narrated that on Dec. 6, 2000, he was with Pedro Gabane, his
grandfather-custodian, in Cambais village, Motiong town, Samar when several
members of the New People’s Army (NPA) passed by their house.
few minutes later, about 30 soldiers from the 34th IBPA and the
Military Intelligence Command (MICO) arrived and immediately fired at their
was sure that the shots came from the military unit as he recognized one of the
soldiers who arrested him. His captor stayed with him at the army barracks
during his detention.
recalled that the NPA guerrillas engaged the military in a firefight but
withdrew immediately. Levi said he overheard his grandfather telling the
soldiers that he was not an NPA guerrilla but Levi later found that his
grandfather was shot by the soldiers inside their house.
said a soldier dragged him away with the military unit after the gunfight ended.
was crying. Then, I was slapped hard by one of the soldiers. It was painful and
hard, I even lost my balance,” he told the human rights workers.
further recalled that while passing by a river, one of the soldiers grabbed him
and threatened to drop him in the water. He cried profusely until they reached
the army camp where he spent the next four years.
social workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
visited him the next day, Dec. 7. Levi
said he begged to be released but his pleas went unheard. Before they left, one
of them handed him a Php20 bill, supposedly to appease him, he said.
also said that his custodian, military chaplain Col. Daniel Tansip, made him do
cleaning chores inside the camp. He
was also barred from going out of the camp.
don’t want to stay inside the military camp anymore. They (military) were just
fooling me,” he said.
told the human rights workers that he would be happy to continue his education
at a nearby elementary school.
the human rights workers left, they handed him some school supplies.
(Thank you), he told them shyly.
I give some of the notebooks to my younger brother? He also goes to school?” he asked.
is one of 11 political prisoners released by the Macapagal-Arroyo government as
part of its commitment to release 32. The move is a confidence-building measure
for the ongoing formal peace negotiations with the NDFP.
First to be released last April was Zenaida Llesis, a woman political prisoner from Mindanao who gave birth inside the detention center. Her one-year old baby girl Gabriela was detained with her for more than a year. Bulatlat.com