Karapatan condemns arrest of church worker-A A +A
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
HUMAN rights watchdog, Karapatan Northern Mindanao, condemns the arrest of Joel Quintana Yagao, 44, a long time lay co-worker of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) assigned in the eastern part of Misamis Oriental, assisting the poor farmers in their struggle for right to life and dignity.
Yagao is married and has two children.
“Joel is another fall guy. He had nothing to do with the shooting encounter between Mayor Ruthie Guingona’s convoy and the NPA (New People’s Army). Nuns, priests and the farmer group he had worked with will truly attest to that” said Fr. Chris Ablon, secretary general of the rights group based in Northern Mindanao.
Yagao was arrested by a composite team while holding a meeting with co-workers inside the compound of Villanueva Catholic church around 11:00 a.m. on September 8.
Yagao and his co-workers have been planning for the October peasant month celebration.
The arresting team was led by Capt. Joe Ryan Manalo of Philippine Army.
Fr. Ablon said Yagao has been falsely charged with double murder and multiple frustrated murders in the killings of the two civilian security escorts of former Gingoog City mayor Guingona’s convoy which was waylaid after it didn’t stop when the rebels flagged it down in April this year.
“He, along with two other farmers from Gingoog who were arrested earlier, are just another victims of the police effort to cover up their inefficiency and in so doing violate the rights of these innocent citizens. Joel and even the other innocent persons who are threatened to be implicated to this case add to the long list of many activists who have been arrested for crimes they have not committed,” said Ablon.
Karapatan criticized the Aquino administration for its appalling treatment to political activists or anybody who speaks out discontent against the government that claims to be headed to a “tuwid na daan” yet the it cannot easily bring to justice the people involved in the pork barrel scam.
“People who are involved in systemic syndicate such as the ‘pork barrel’ scam have remained seated in the halls of Congress, Senate and even in Malacañang Palace and there cohorts enjoying protective custody while peace advocates and community leaders like Joel who are offering themselves for the welfare of poor, deprived and marginalized majority are caged in jails.
Karapatan demands that Yagao should be released the soonest.
The army said Yagao was positively identified by a rebel returnee who used to be a liaison officer of Guerilla 4B, North Central Mindanao Committee. The said committee owned up the Guingona shooting incident and vowed to conduct its own investigation. However, nothing has been heard from the group about it.
The army said more suspects will be arrested as witnesses continue to give relevant information involving the Guingona shooting.
Col. Francisco L. Pabayo, Commander of the 403rd Brigade, said: “We will continue to support the PNP in capturing these criminals and encourage terrorists to surrender and return back into the folds of the government.”
BGen. Ricardo R. Visaya, Commander of 4th Infantry Division, thanked the civilians who continuously support the government by providing relevant information for all the victims of these terror groups. “Rest assured that your efforts will not be put into vain, this is the real essence of Bayanihan.” (GCA)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 11, 2013.