Six leaders of progressive organizations in Negros Occidental yesterday slammed the military for implicating them in the murder of an Army lieutenant two years ago in Cadiz City, a claim that they described as “baseless”.
In his affidavit-complaint, copies of which were distributed yesterday to the local media, rebel-returnee Freddie Sanchez implicated Fred Caña, secretary general of Karapatan, Christian Tuayon of Bayan, Ronald Ian Evidente, spokesperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Clarizza Dagatan, chair of Gabriela-Negros, Bernardino Patigas, spokesperson of Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights, and Gualberto Dajao, chair of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Region VI, as among those behind the killing of 1Lt. Archie Polenzo.
Polenzo, company commander of the 62nd Infantry “Unifier” Battalion, was killed in a gun-battle with the platoon-size K ilusang Larangan Northern Negros of the New People's Army on March 7, 2010 at Sitio Aluyan, Brgy. Caduhaan, Cadiz City.
In a press conference yesterday at the Negros Press Club building in Bacolod City, Tuayon dismissed the accusation as “another trumped-up charge” against leaders of progressive groups, aimed to silence them from criticizing the government.
While they are not afraid of getting arrest warrants, Caña said they only ask for due process of law.
Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said he cannot speculate on the case since it is in the court already.
“Let us allow the judicial system to operate,” Lactao said.
He added the incident happened before his assignment in Negros, and the case has progressed since then.
Caña said they only acquired copies of the affidavit, and the amended information for the murder of Polenzo, through their legal council last Friday.
Dagatan said their conscience is clear, and there is no way for them to become murderers, especially because she is connected with the Gabriela Women's Party, a group that helps abused women.
She added that they were deprived of their civil rights since they were not given a chance to explain their side.
Patigas and Evidente also said fabricating charges is a frustrated move of military since its Oplan Bayanihan campaign is a failure.
In a text message sent to the DAILY STAR, Dajao condemned the inclusion of his name in the case of Polenzo.
Other respondents in the case, who had been arrested and freed from jail after posting bail, were Romeo Nanta, alleged NPA regional commander of Negros; Rogelio Danoso “alias Ka Gildo”, Hernando Llorente and his wife Faith Roseen Basergo, Nilda Natan Bertulano, Marilyn Badayos and Romulo Bitoon.
Sarah Alvarez and Anecita Rojo remained in jail as of this time, police records show. Julia Tabat, alias Ka Pinay, another respondent in the murder charge, died in an encounter late last year in Candoni, Negros Occidental.*LTG