Monday, May 14, 2012

‘Morong 5’ to testify for military

Being comrades apparently has its limits.

Five members of the so-called “Morong 43” are willing to testify against their former comrades who have accused the military of torture when they were arrested as communist rebels two years ago in a private resort in Morong, Rizal.

Ellen Carandang said she and the four others who have swung over to the government side were willing to testify that they were not tortured in case of a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation.

The “Morong 5” have confessed to being New People’s Army (NPA) members and chosen to stay in Camp Capinpin as rebel returnees. The camp is the headquarters of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division.

“I want to tell our former comrades that we are ready to testify against them, to tell the truth,” Carandang, speaking in Filipino, told reporters in Camp Capinpin on Saturday.
“You can say that some are legitimate (medical practitioners), but they help the NPA,” she added.

“Their claim that there was torture, that’s not true,” said Jenilyn Pizarro, who last year married a soldier she had met in the camp. She was then 19.

Carandang, Pizarro and Valentino Paulino faced reporters in the presence of Maj. Gen. Eduardo Del Rosario, the 2nd Infantry Division commander. Two other members of their group—Cherilyn Tawagon and John Mark Barrientos—did not show up.

No torture

Last week, a lawyer for eight other members of the “Morong 43” filed a case of torture at the DOJ against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, two former military chiefs and 16 other security personnel. The eight claimed they were tortured while detained at Camp Capinpin.

Del Rosario said that since Carandang and the four others were not tortured, it would follow that the others also were not tortured.

“The five told the truth,” Del Rosario said. “They are members of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines). They were conducting a seminar on how to give first aid in case someone is wounded in an encounter.”

Carandang claimed one of the eight complainants, whom she said is a doctor, taught emergency surgery very well. She also said the owner of the resort where they held the seminar did not know about what the group was doing.

Military claim

Carandang, Pizarro and Paulino said they were all being treated well in the camp. “No good would have come out if we had continued to stay in the mountains. We would only have further neglected our families,” Carandang said.

Her husband has stayed behind with the NPA with one of their children. They have had no communication for a year, she said.

The Morong 43 were health workers arrested in the military raid on  Feb. 6, 2010. The military claimed they were NPA cadres training in making bombs.

President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the charges against them withdrawn. They were freed before Christmas that year. Six of them later sued Arroyo for damages.

On Thursday, eight members of the group also accused Arroyo and 18 others, including military and police officers, of torture.

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