MANILA – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) added its voice to demands of human rights groups, youth groups, teachers and scientists calling for the release of UP professor Kim Gargar, who is presently being detained in the Davao Oriental Provincial Jail in Mati town. In a statement emailed to media Tuesday, the CCP denounced the arrest, imprisonment and “false charges” levelled against Gargar.
“Professor Gargar’s detention underscores the grave injustice in Philippine society where the big plunderers of the environment and the people’s money enjoy their high-style living while those who choose to serve the people and defend their land and resources are made to rot in jail,” the CPP said.
Professor Gargar was taken into custody last October 1 by soldiers of the 67th Infantry Battalion in Cateel, Davao Oriental, near an area where they encountered a unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) several hours earlier. The military claims Gargar was arrested with an M-16 rifle, “landmines” and so-called subversive documents.
The UP professor denied all charges against him by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). In interviews, he asserted that he has been in Compostela Valley since late June to carry out a six-month resource mapping to develop a reforestation program with the aim of rehabilitating the areas devastated by typhoon Pablo in December 2012. Gargar said his research effort is in coordination with the Panalipdan environmental group and the Balsa Mindanao disaster relief network.
Professor Gargar is the Networking Officer of the Center for Environmental Concerns–Philippines and a PhD candidate in Chronobiology in the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in The Netherlands. He finished his masteral education in Physics at the University of the Philippines, and BS in Physics, magna cum laude, at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology in 2000.
Aside from supporting calls for the release of Professor Gargar, the CPP also urged for the return of all his scientific notes, digital files, research and personal materials. It echoed the complaint of Filipino environmentalists that for as long as Gargar remains in detention, he is prevented from conducting his research work for the people of Compostela Valley, and that, in turn, “only serves the big mining companies that do not want to be bothered by demands for reforestration and rehabilitation.”
Growing number of false arrests under Aquino
“The arrest and detention of Professor Gargar reminds us of the growing number of cases of wrongful arrests and killings by the reactionary armed forces victimizing civilians which the Armed Forces of the Philippines have accused as being members of the NPA,” said the CPP.
Recently, the AFP was compelled to release Rolly Panesa, a security guard employed by the Megaforce Security. Panesa was arrested by the AFP in October 5, 2012 and accused of being “Benjamin Mendoza” whom the AFP claimed to be a leader of the CPP in the Southern Tagalog region. He was severely tortured and detained for nine months and was released only last September.
In November 15, 2010, troops of the 19th IB shot at the team of distinguished botanist Leonardo Co killing Co and his two companions Ronino Gibe and Policarpio Batute. In February 16, 2012, elements of the 1st Special Forces Battalion, 1st Infantry Battalion and the 59th Infantry Battalion fired at forest hunters in Magdalena, Laguna killing two residents and wounding three. In October 18, 2012, soldiers of the 27th IB killed pregnant mother Jovy Capion and her two sons age 13 and 8.
“In these and numerous other cases of killing or arresting ordinary civilians, the AFP invariably claims that they encountered members of the New People’s Army,” said the CPP. “They make grand declarations that those arrested or killed are leaders of the CPP or NPA as if these justify their fascist crimes.”
The revolutionary group warned that because of the all-out support extended by Aquino to the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression, these “fascist soldiers are emboldened to wage all-out war in the countryside with complete disregard for human rights and international humanitarian law.”