Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros members claimed they were held and harassed in Guinpanaan,Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, yesterday, by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, which the government troops denied.
Michael dela Concepcion, Bayan-Negros secretary general, said yesterday that about 17 passengers, including six women, a minor and a brother from the Iglesia Filipina Indepediente, were held for 30 minutes by members of the AFP and PNP.
Without finding any violations, the government troops did not hold them any longer, but, the checkpointwas not random and was only conducted to harass them, dela Concepcion claimed.
Dela Concepcion also said that the military vehicle that was used in the checkpoint also tailed their 10-wheeler truck up to La Castellana proper, causing fear to them, as the area they were passing was not well-lighted.
He added that their group came from Sitio Cambairan, Barangay Trinidad in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, where they gave relief goods to families dislocated by massive militarization.
Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, and Senior Insp. Junji Liba, Moises Padilla Police Station chief, said there was no harassment as they only implemented the plain view doctrine when implementing the checkpoint, especially since the election period is in effect.
Arevalo, who described the claims of dela Concepcion as exaggerated, said that the group came from the area where the New People’s Army celebrated their 50th anniversary and their truck had no plate number.
“What’s the problem there? They came from an area where the NPA celebrated their anniversary. They were being subjected to a checkpoint there as part of the anti-criminality and gun ban campaign,” Arevalo said.
Liba also said that they received reports of a suspicious truck unloading passengers in an area in Moises Padilla, where there was threat of rebels, thus they needed to conduct a checkpoint.
“There were no violations since the police only conducted a checkpoint which is to check for any contraband, but when they were cleared, they were eventually released,” Liba added.*
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