Military denies coercion claims on surrendered NPA ‘amazon’

MANILA – The Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade (IB) on Friday vehemently denied allegations by militant group Karapatan that Alexandrea Pacalda, allegedly a human rights worker, was coerced into signing documents without legal counsel and being deprived of food and sleep.

Capt. Benedick Alfonso G. Cagatin, civil-military operations officer of 201st IB, said 24-year old Pacalda signed an affidavit of voluntary surrender last September 15 in the presence of her brother, father, and a certain Helen Benig, who identified herself as “Pangulong Pang Municipal” San Francisco of Karapatan.

“This was signed at General Luna Municipal Police Station,” Cagatin said in a statement.

Pacalda, he said, was not detained nor charged with any crime as she gave herself up voluntarily.

She reportedly surrendered to combined Army and Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel in General Luna town, Quezon on September 15.

On Karapatan claims that Pacalda was made to do things without a legal counsel, he said there is no need for this as the former voluntarily surrendered.

“On (claims of) being deprived of sleep and food, she sleeps in an air-conditioned room with a bathroom. Likewise, members from the Commission on Human Rights inspected the billeting area of Alexandrea Pacalda while she is in our custody. When her mother stayed with her, she even commented that: ‘Mabuti dito na may pagkain ng maaga. Sa bahay namin kape lang at nagpapang-abot kung minsan ang tanghalian at agahan (It’s good here because there is food in the morning. In our house, there is only coffee and sometimes we have lunch and breakfast altogether),” Cagatin said.

For the record, he said Pacalda was allowed to stay inside the camp in Barangay Rizal Ilaya, Calauag, Quezon on the premise that she wants to live a normal life again after being victimized by New People’s Army’s (NPA) deception and propaganda that prompted her to join the rebel ranks.

“Her family was immediately brought in to be with her knowing that she was fearful and to establish good faith to assure her that we had the best intentions. In fact, it was her first reunion with her family after two long years following her surrender,” he said, adding that with her surrender, Pacalda was extended the necessary assistance and protection within their means.

Karapatan’s claims that Pacalda is a “human rights worker” is not true as the items she turned over during her surrender contained pictures of her as an NPA fighter and other NPA documents, he added.

Pacalda is known to be a member of the Platoon Sol, Sub- Regional Military Area (SRMA) 4B, Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC) of the NPA.

“Karapatan has continued to manifest their coercive and manipulative action to bring forth the youth to the brink of destruction victimizing our youth towards perdition.,” Cagatin said. “Let us not be fooled by this leftist group, Karapatan, that pretends to be defending our rights but really protecting the communist terrorist group.”

The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.