Abducted barangay leaders win in polls-A A +A
Saturday, November 2, 2013
THE barangay chair of Sabud in Loreto, Agusan Del Sur and his three council members, who were among the five people being held hostage by suspected communist rebels, won in the October 28 barangay elections.
Barangay chair Lito Andalique, village council members Reynaldo Piodos, Balaba Andalique, and Marvin Bantuasan; and Pepe Subla, a CVO, all of Sabud, were taken hostage by rebels of Guerilla Front 34 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee. The rebels also attacked a team of soldiers stationed at a temporary patrol base in Sabud last October 24.
Colonel Gregory Cayetano, chief of the Army's 401ST Infantry Brigade, said the victory of the hostages, despite their absence, indicates that they are well loved by their constituents.
He said residents in the barangay have shown that "no amount of NPA threats and intimidations will stop them from imposing their will."
"This is a manifestation that democracy has gained ground in the said barangay and that the NPA is losing the support of the people," Cayetano said.
He added Sabud sits in a rebel base until the arrival of the Peace and Development Teams who were tasked to carry out humanitarian mission and secure government projects like Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana).
Cayetano said the persistence of the soldiers to bring peace and development in the barangay helped the people realized that the NPA "is not the people's army but in contrary, the oppressors who continuously create havoc thru harassments, liquidations and extortions."
"It became clear to the people that the NPA has evolved as human rights violators, terrorists and criminals who give no regards on the rights of their victims who are supposed to be protected under the articles of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) and Geneva Convention," Cayetano said.
"We will pursue the rebels and explore all possibilities to free the barangay leaders while, at the same time, offer the hand of peace to the rebels to join us work for development in the area," he added.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 03, 2013.