Davao City – Non-government organizations and religious leaders demanded the authorities Monday to “immediately and unconditionally release” their colleague who was presented to media last week as a captured “high-ranking NPA (New People’s Army) leader.”
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) in Manila and Southern Mindanao, together with Friends of the Rural Poor (FoRP) released their official statements to condemn the “illegal arrest and detention” of Dominiciano “Dioning” Muya.
The groups condemned the “malicious planting of false evidence” against Muya making it appear that he is a criminal.
The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) together with the Philippine National Police appeared on a press conference last Friday to present Muya to the media as a captured ranking rebel leader.
According to the military, Muya was arrested at around 1:45 in the afternoon of October 16 “in a PNP-Army checkpoint while onboard a motorcycle along Barangay Mankilam, Tagum City by virtue of Warrant of Arrest docketed as Criminal Case Nr 2252 for the crimes of robbery with double homicide and damage to properties and Criminal Case Nr 20162/20163 for the crimes of multiple murder and double frustrated murder.”
The military also said that a caliber 45 pistol, with a hand grenade was found in Muya’s possession.
However, Sister Marisol Huertas and Brother Edgardo Campos who are both members of RMP-Southern Mindanao Coordinating Body, said that on the day Muya was arrested, “he was canvassing for construction materials for the school’s construction.”
“He was illegally arrested while doing his regular work for RMP-Southern Mindanao,” they said.
According to the group, Muya was also detained for more than a day “without food and sleep.”
RMP said that Muya has been a consultant for their school and later worked as a staff for their Sustainable Agriculture program.
“He was a consultant for sustainable agriculture program of RMP-Southern Mindanao in 2003 and became a staff in 2007 managing the sustainable agriculture program and school construction upon the establishment of the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center in the same year which is assisted by RMP Southern Mindanao,” the group said.
The group also said that Muya was robbed of money and personal belongings during his arrest.
“He did not possess the pistol and the hand grenade that was shown up by the military as his accessories during his arrest. What he possessed that time was the P40,000 plus budget for construction and laborer’s allowances for the school, his cellphones and a motorcycle,” Huertas said.
“He is not an NPA but an agriculturist that we employed to ensure food, environmental and livelihood sustainability for indigenous communities that have requested for our schools,” she added.
Muya, who is an agriculturist, was a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, major in Soil Science in University of Southern Mindanao.
The group also accused the “top ranks” of the 10th Infantry Division, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the PNP of using Muya to collect the P4.8 million reward money.
Meanwhile, Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Command, said that the AFP “misrepresented” Muya as a top CPP official.
“(The) AFP manufactured the criminal charges based on pure imagination; it wrongly accused Muya as part of the CPP Southern Mindanao Regional Committee to portray him as its enemy in order to discredit his work in the countryside as a committed educator of sustainable agriculture among IP schools. ” said Sanchez.
Sanchez said “(the) military is allergic to far-flung private schools and any mass undertaking, seeing these endeavors as impediments to foreign large-scale mining and capitalist incursions in the resource-rich forests and ancestral lands of IPs.”
“By arresting, detaining, or harassing teachers in the countryside, they are scheming to instill fear among NGOs, activists, advocates and civil libertarians,” he said.