June 12, 2012 | Press release from Karapatan Southern Tagalog Facebook.
Watch the video here.
Rights group KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog released today a video interview of Franklin Barrera Jr., youth activist from Quezon province who was recently reported to have been abducted and tortured by military elements. Barrera categorically stated in the video interview that he believes his abductors were members of the 85th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army stationed in Lopez, Quezon.
Last July 7, 2012, Barrera was reported (http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/nation/28439-military-hit-over-kidnap-torture-of-anti-mining-activist-in-quezon) to have been abducted by unidentified armed men in Lopez town. According to a statement he made to KARAPATAN, he was tortured and interrogated but managed to escape the same day. At about 1:00 AM the next day, members of KARAPATAN-Quezon fetched Barrera in a hospital in Atimonan town and took him to the KABATAAN-Partylist office in Lucena City.
On June 10, Barrera left the office without notice and was later reported to be in the hands of the military again. The video interview was shot last June 8, two days before he left the KABATAAN-Partylist office.
KARAPATAN-ST secretary general Glendhyl Malabanan said the video clearly refutes AFP’s statement yesterday accusing their group of propagating a “tall tale” to “demonize the military.”
Yesterday, Colonel Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 201st Brigade operating in Quezon, issued a statement (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/210369/quezon-activist-escapes-points-to-npa-as-abductors-–-army-exec) claiming that members of the New People’s Army (NPA), not the military, were behind the abduction. He said Barrera feared for his life and sought help from the military. He also claimed that Barrera himself is a member of the NPA.
“We stand by our earlier statements that Barrera is an activist and not a member of the NPA. Just like what Barrera said in his interview, we believe that the military are the only ones who have a clear motive in perpetuating such an atrocity. As an activist and a critique of government and military policies, Barrera is a prime target for human rights abuse,” Malabanan said.
In the video, Barrera said he is the current coordinator of KABATAAN-Partylist in the fourth district of Quezon. He said he has stopped from schooling in order to “serve society.”
Malabanan stated though that should Barrera stick with the Col. Año’s story, they only see this as a possible result of the military’s coercion and intimidation tactics. She said the military uses such dirty psy-op tactics like they did in the case of the Morong 43.
“We can also see in the video how calm and composed Barrera is, which we can look at as a sign that he does not feel any fear for his life during that time, and is most likely telling the truth. Meanwhile, Col. Año on the other hand has no credibility when it comes to human rights issues. He is a suspect in the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos in 2007. He has no moral authority to lay claims that the military has no hand in Barrera’s abduction,” Malabanan added.