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Army told to probe abduction of Samar activist

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 04:38pm (Mla time) 10/16/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Army has been tasked to investigate allegations its men were behind the abduction of an activist working for a left-wing fisherfolk group in Samar province, who has been missing for five months, a spokesman for the military said.

This after the parents of Juliet Fernandez, 32, and officials from the militant groups Gabriela and Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) met with Colonel Benedicto Jose, head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) human rights office in Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday, AFP public information officer Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said.

“Initially, the action of the Armed Forces of the Philippines [is] they will be forwarding the complaint to the Philippine Army for their initial investigation,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

A fact-finding mission by Gabriela concluded that Army troops kidnapped Fernandez in Calbiga town, Samar last May 11.

Fernandez served as secretary general of Gabriela Youth during her college days at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) before working for Karapatan, and later for the Samar affiliate of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya or National Federation of Fisherfolk Organizations).

Bacarro said Fernandez’s parents were the first kin of alleged victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to seek an audience with the recently created AFP human rights office.

“We appreciate their coming to us so we can act on those complaints and check if indeed soldiers were involved in Ms. Fernandez’s disappearance, and to show the public that we do not condone such act[s],” Bacarro said.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-10-16T08:48:22+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 16 Oct 2007 08:48:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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