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Dumaguete City, PhilippinesThursday, May 15, 2014
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Militant groups warned
over safety of ‘ex-rebel’

The Commission on Human Rights in Negros Oriental yesterday warned militant groups that they will be held accountable if something happens to a rebel returnee who did a flip-flop recently.

CHR special investigator Jess Cañete was referring to the conflicting statements of Gennie Labrador, a former member of the New People’s Army, who had earlier received financial assistance from the provincial government under the Social Integration Program for former rebels.

Labrador was one of the 30 rebel returnees who received cash incentives from the province during the declaration of Negros Oriental as “conflict manageable and development ready province” last week.

But several days after the declaration, he announced at a press conference called by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and the Karapatan that he was not a former NPA member but was urged to admit it by government officials.

The militant groups criticized the declaration as misleading, and said the basic social problems, particularly poverty, have not been addressed by the government, so the insurgency problem will still persist.

Yesterday afternoon Labrador did a back-flip and confirmed that he was, indeed, a former NPA member, Cañete said.

In an interview in the presence of Cañete and provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Alice Legarde, Labrador claimed that he was under pressure, allegedly from the militant groups who pushed him to say otherwise.

Cañete said he believes Labrador was telling the truth that he was a rebel returnee.

His surrender and entitlement to the financial assistance were thoroughly and properly documented by the provincial SWD.

Cañete appealed to the militant groups to give peace a chance to prosper in Negros Oriental. “We should not be faultfinders and not derail government programs to improve the lives of the people,” he said.

Labrador had told the CHR about his activities in the NPA, but admitted that he was fearful of retaliation from his former comrades.

Cañete said that if Labrador’s claim of not being a rebel returnee is true, the CHR will subpoena those concerned to explain why he was made to pass himself off as a former NPA member.*JFP

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