Thursday, March 19, 2009

Alleged NPA leader celebrates 45th birthday in Cebu jail

By CARINE M. ASUTILLA, ABS-CBN Central Visayas | 03/19/2009 8:09 PM

Political detainee and suspected New People's Army (NPA) leader Ramon Patriarca celebrated his 45th birthday at Danao City Jail in Cebu Tuesday, where he was visited by militant leaders and human rights advocates.

Patriarca's sister, Belen Cabujat, flew in from Manila Friday last week so she could visit him in jail for the first time. She said she was worried about Patriarca's health. She said Patriarca had lost a lot of weight and was complaining about the jail's ventilation.

Paul Rodriguez, president of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Central Visayas, also visited Patriarca. Rodriguez said that he and Patriarca had been part of BAYAN since the 1980s.

Rodriguez recently filed a petition for habeas data which designed to protect an individual's right to protect information about himself at the Cebu City Regional Trial Court (RTC) against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command. He said he found out that his name was included in the military's Order of Battle. He said his name may have been included in the list because he had voiced his opinions as BAYAN president during the Hello Garci scandal in 2005.

Rodriguez asked the court to remove his name from the Army's list of targets, which also includes Patriarca's name.

Chief Inspector Waldemar Villanueva, Danao City jail warden, said that they allowed Patriarca’s visitors to take part in Patriarca's birthday celebrations inside the jail, which included a special mass celebrated for him. However, only five visitors at a time were allowed to see Patriarca.

Villanueva said they had also beefed up security, adding 15 police since Patriarca was detained in the said jail.

Villanueva, however, did not allow members of media to enter the jail and Patriarca also reportedly refused to be interviewed. His supporters said Patriarca only wished that he will be freed along with other political detainees.

Patriarca, alleged to be the head of the finance and research department of the NPA, was arrested February 5 in Barangay Casili in Consolacion town in a joint operation by the Armed Forces’ Central Command and the Philippine National Police (PNP) after Danao City RTC Judge Edito Enemecio issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of rebellion.

Patriarca had allegedly used several aliases and held various high-ranking positions in the NPA's Komiteng Rehiyonal Sentral Bisayas as deputy secretary, finance officer, head of taxation and secretary while in Negros.

Militant and human rights groups, however, have condemned the arrest, saying it constituted illegal detention. They also allege that Patriarca had been tortured during interrogation by unidentified armed men.

as of 03/19/2009 8:09 PM

No comments: