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43 suspected NPA Rebels nabbed in Morong training seminar

by Echo Park Community Coalition (EPCC) Sunday, Feb. 07, 2010 at 8:12 PM
epccla02@yahoo.com 818-749-0272 1740 W. Temple St. Los Angeles, Ca 90026

the EPCC NEWS reported today that Philippine state forces on Saturday raided a resort in Morong, Rizal, owned by a prominent Manila doctor and arrested 43 suspected communist rebels attending a training seminar. Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesperson of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said those arrested in the resthouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte, a consultant at Philippine General Hospital and professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines’ College of Medicine, were “ranking New People’s Army (NPA) leaders.”

February 6, 2010

43 suspected NPA Rebels nabbed in Morong training seminar

Los Angeles- The EPCC NEWs learned today that the AFP arrested 43 community health workers and were branded as " suspected NPA members"

In a mobile phone interview, Detoyato said the raid also yielded guns and high explosives. “They rented that place to conduct a seminar on bomb manufacturing,” he said

Anti-communist witch hunting?

But Velmonte refuted the military’s claims. She said that those arrested, among them 26 women, were community health workers attending a training course organized by the nongovernment organization Council for Health Development.

Velmonte, who was not arrested, assailed members of the raiding team who, she said, entered her three-hectare property “without respect.”

“I was at the gate when they came at around 6 a.m. They did not bother to identify themselves. They were very disrespectful,” she said in a phone interview.

“They were so many. I saw four six-by-six trucks, a military tank and two police mobiles,” she added. She said her help was told at gunpoint to open the gate for them.

She said the men entered her property without explaining to her what the raid was about.

Asked how she felt, she replied: “I’m not afraid. I’m very angry at those soldiers and policemen.”

Velmonte said the participants were members of various NGOs from Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Mindoro and Pangasinan.

Community health Training

She said she even gave a one-hour lecture on the treatment of infectious diseases on Friday night.

“I agreed (to let them use the place) because it’s an advocacy. They want to help people in the remote areas,” said Velmonte, one of the country’s foremost experts on infectious diseases.

The Velmonte resort compound consists of a residence, a guest house and a conference pavilion.

The health training seminar, Velmonte said, started on Feb. 1 and was supposed to end on Sunday.

“(The military) said they recovered a grenade and a landmine from one of the beds of the participants,” Velmonte said. But she suspected the weapons were “planted,” since the soldiers searched the rooms without anyone else standing as a witness.

At least 300 heavily-armed soldiers and policemen conducted the raid, added her son Jose Manuel Velmonte.

Jose Manuel questioned the legality of the raid, saying the search warrant shown to them was issued against a “Mario Condes.”

“We don’t know that person. I think the raid violated several provisions of the law,” he added.

He said the soldiers ordered all the people to leave the area while they were scouring the place. “Then all of a sudden, they supposedly saw those guns and bombs,” he said.

“They entered the rooms first before they called us to witness the raid,” he said.

Detoyato, however, insisted the search was legal as it was covered by a warrant issued by Imus, Cavite, Judge Cesar Mangrobang.

He identified the weapons recovered as a .45-cal. pistol, a .38-cal. revolver, three grenades, an improvised landmine, Claymore mines, two kilograms of ammonium nitrate, blasting caps and 37 explosive sticks.

Campaign materials for the Bayan Muna party-list group were likewise taken by the raiding team, he said.

“We have been conducting surveillance operations against that group. We are sure that those persons were really NPA members,” he said.

Detoyato said the suspects were brought to Camp Capinpin in nearby Tanay town.

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