By Fr. SANTIAGO "Sanny" SALAS
Spokesperson, NDFP-Eastern Visayas
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Eastern Visayas today demanded the immediate release from the Arroyo government's custody of Michelle Adelantar, a daughter of a cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army.
"In violation of international humanitarian law, Michelle, 17, was abducted and detained last 3 February in San Jose de Buan, Western Samar, by operating troops from the 34th Infantry Battalion merely because she was the child of a CPP-NPA cadre," said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson.
"She was placed under military custody but later transferred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development. However, since she still remains in the custody of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines without any basis, it is possible that the military is in cahoots with the DSWD to keep Michelle under duress. We are concerned over Michelle because the GRP's troops have been attacking the relatives of CPP-NPA-NDFP members and leaders, such as the rape and murder of Rebelyn, the daughter of Leoncio "Ka Parago" Pitao."
Fr. Salas also slammed the 8th Infantry Division for making up the story that Michelle was "rescued" by government troops from being a "child combatant" of the NPA.
"The 8th ID goes against international humanitarian law in shamelessly capitalizing on the illegal arrest and detention of Michelle for its psywar purposes and to cause mental anguish on her parents. It is a lie to say that Michelle is a "child combatant" because she is not even a Red fighter since she doesn't meet the minimum age of 18 for recruitment into the NPA.
"We remind the GRP and its 8th ID to respect international humanitarian law and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. In accordance with these, the GRP should immediately release Michelle as a minor and someone who is not involved in the armed hostilities."
The NDFP-EV spokesperson also cautioned the public to be wary of the 8th ID's psywar frenzy. "The military is key to the Arroyo regime's schemes to remain in power.
"The new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Delfin Bangit, is Arroyo's most loyal general and had been implicated in the 2004 election cheating scandal. The people must thus be vigilant against the escalation of the military's psywar and the Arroyo regime's desperate moves to extend its term."