KAPALONG, Davao del Norte – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he was at first hesitant to help a soldier recently held by the New People’s Army when he learned that the Prisoner of War (POW) was involved in illegal logging and drug use.
“Pangutan-a ng NPA, pagtawag nila, niingon ko ihawa na ninyo (Ask the NPAs, I told them to butcher him),” said Duterte during the NPA’s release of Corporal Rogelio Rosales of the 60th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army here Monday.
“Pag pahibawo bitaw sa NPA, kahibawo nako nga naa na silay nadakpan, wala pa man pud gisulti. Taud-taud ang Army nitawag na nga naay nadakpan, wa pud mangayo og tabang sa ako. Murag nauwaw kay kani diay, nadakpan ni si Rosales ga-escort og illegal logging unya naay nakuha sa iyang lawas nga shabu (The NPAs called me but they did not elaborate. Later the Army called to confirm of the NPA’s capture. They did not ask for my help because they were embarrassed as Rosales was captured while he was escorting illegal loggers and that a shabu was found in his possession,” said Duterte.
According to a statement signed by Ka Aris Francisco, spokesperson of the NPA’s Comval-North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional Command, Rosales was captured by the NPA last May 3 in Brgy. Florida, Kapalong, Davao del Norte.
Franciso further accused that the shabu caught in Rosales’ possession is “proof that soldiers who are coddling big loggers in the province were also into the illegal drug trade.”
Duterte said, “Unya ang Army miadto sa ako, ana ko, di ko. Dili ko modawat og sundalo nga illegal logging, kana pa nuong pinusilay, nabihag. (The Army approached me but I said I do not want to help. I do not want to help a soldier that was captured for illegal logging [and drugs]. I would only help those caught in combat).”
Duterte, however, relented after Rosales’ mother asked for his intervention. “Naluoy man pud ko (I felt pity) and so I asked the NPAs that he be spared.”
Rosales in an interview with the media denied the accusations against him.
“It was just a 2×2 timber for a house,” he said.
Rosales said that after Typhoon Pablo, the Army implemented a total log ban but did not target small logging.
He said the logs “did not fall under illegal logging according to the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)” and that he was in the area because he was “following-up wood for his house.”
NPA’s Francisco said that “Rosales, just like Sgt. Jeric Bucio Curay of the 72nd Infantry Battalion who was arrested and declared as Prisoner of war last April 4 and released last April 23, is part of the gang of soldiers under the 60th IB-72nd IB-Big 4 troika that is liable for the environmentally-destructive and anti-people logging business in Southern Mindanao and Caraga regions.”
As to the drugs found in his possession, Rosales admitted that he was “depressed because of a family problem” but claimed he was not a regular drug-user.
“I am ready to take a drug test and face SOPs,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte still thanked the NPA for “abiding with Geneva Law and other human rights conventions” and for “taking care of Rosales well.”
After the NPA’s release, Duterte took Rosales to the Eastern Mindanao Command about 12:30pm aboard his helicopter. (davaotoday.com)