By JUSTIN UMALI
SANTA ROSA, Laguna – The family and legal counsel of New People’s Army Southern Tagalog Spokesperson Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla have been kept in the dark on the latter’s whereabouts and status since November 27.
Padilla’s family was last able to meet with the 72-year old spokesperson Tuesday, November 26, after travelling more than six hours from Batangas province. They were only allowed a five-minute visit as they arrived at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-National Capital Region inside Camp Crame after official visitation hours.
On November 27, at 12 noon, Padilla was taken from CIDG-NCR to an unknown location. According to Padilla’s lawyer Kristina Conti, officers from the San Juan Municipal Police Station refused to give Padilla’s whereabouts and were similarly unwilling to divulge information on who is handling Padilla’s case.
Padilla was arrested November 25 at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan while he was undergoing treatment for hypertension and a heart ailment.
Karapatan said that Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, acting director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) confirmed Padilla is under its custody during a press briefing after Padilla’s arrest.
The group said Sinas and those responsible for violation of Padilla’s rights may be held liable under Republic Act 7438, which states that “any person arrested detained or under custodial investigation shall at all times be assisted by counsel.” They may also be held liable under Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law which explicitly defines torture as a crimes against persons, including psychological torture.
Karapatan-Southern Tagalog condemned the violations on Padilla’s rights, stressing that his family has “the right to know their loved one’s whereabouts.”
In a statement, Karapatan said the treatment of Padilla should be in compliance to international humanitarian law as outlined in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The group said that Padilla was seeking medical attention, and even arresting operatives reported that no firearms were recovered from him.
The CARHRIHL and the 1949 Geneva Conventions state that hors de combat (outside the fight) should be treated with humanity. Padilla is also protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guidelines in his role as a peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
NDFP-Southern Tagalog also condemned the disappearance of Padilla. Karidad Madlangbayan, NDFP-ST spokesperson, said that “anything that happens to Ka Diego will be paid back by the Duterte regime.”
Madlangbayan also denounced the P4.4 million (US$86.5 million) bounty on Padilla’s head, saying in a phone interview that it “only shows the corruption inherent in the mercenary forces of the state, who exist not to serve the people but to receive paychecks.”
Karapatan-ST urther stressed that “the government’s efforts in keeping Padilla from public view only prove the Duterte administration’s insincerity in pushing for peace.”
“Instead of continuing the peace talks in order to resolve the roots of the armed conflict, Duterte and his cohorts insist on using violent means to further antagonize the Filipino people,” Karapatan-ST said in a statement. Bulatlat.com