3 Davao Backpackers Cleared of NPA Links

Jun. 11, 2006

The military, police, barangay officials from Davao all agree: They are not members of the New Peoples Army (NPA).

By Ace Alegre

La Trinidad, Benguet The Davao City-based military command, local police and barangay officials cleared the three backpackers who live in Davao from any link with the NPA.

The Regional Trial Court in Benguet declared two weeks ago the arrest by Benguet police officers of 11 Sagada-bound backpackers as illegal. Two of the 11 were released on recognizance immediately after.

The 73rd Infantry Neutralizer Battalion, 4th Infantry Diamond Division of the Philippine Army based in Malagos, Baguio District in Davao City cleared 24-year-old Rundren Berloize Lao, 25-year-old Jethro B. Villagracia and 18-year-old Anderson Alonzo of any involvement in the communist movement.

In a written certification obtained by the families of the three Davaoeos, the said military command said the three have no derogatory record as far as this office is concerned as of this date.

The certification issued by Army Private First Class Giovanne Baltar, 73rd IB Command Intelligence Branch officer on May 15, this year also said that Lao, Villagracia and Alonzo are not members of the local communist terrorist movement operating in the Southern Mindanao Region.

Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) national chairperson Pablito Sanidad said that this should be a cause for alarm for Benguet police officers facing numerous criminal and administrative charges before the Benguet prosecutors office and the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM).

Davao Police, Barangay Officials Clearance

Even the local Davao police cleared the three punks from any derogatory record.

A certification on April 17, 2006 by Police Chief Inspector Dionisio Abude, commander of Precinct 10 in Calinan, in Davao City where the Lao family resides, stated that there is no derogatory record of the backpacker.

In addition, Precinct 11 Baguio district police commander Sr. Inspector Adriano Agonia certified that both 25 year old Villagracia and 18 year old Alonzo have no criminal record.

Upon their arrest more than three months ago, which was later on declared illegal by the Regional Trial Court branch 62, Lao was tagged by the Benguet police as the head of the 11-person NPA team supposedly regrouping at the Burnham Park in Baguio City for another test mission in Mountain Province after the February 10 attack in Mankayan town, Benguet.

The three backpackers from Davao were also certified by their respective barangay leaders as of good moral character and has not been charged with any case before this barangay, whether civil or criminal. Barangay Chairperson Pedrito Angco of Calinan, Davao cleared Lao while Malagos Barangay Chairperson Arnel A. Liong both cleared Villagracia and Alonzo. (Bulatlat)

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