TACLOBAN CITY — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) denied accusations from militant groups that the guns and explosives found in the possession of five arrested Leyte activists during a simultaneous raid were planted.
Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso, commander of the 8th Infantry Division and the Joint Task Force Storm that conducted the raid, said there were civilian witnesses who can attest that the firearms and explosives were indeed found and not placed there by the military.
“The AFP is not in the business of planting evidence. If there is a group that is fond of planting, it is the communist movement. They have been planting landmines in Samar that killed not only our soldiers and policemen but many civilians as well,” Diñoso said.
He cited the twin ambushes conducted by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Borongan City last year that killed seven policemen and four civilians and injured several others due to landmines that the rebels have planted.
“For all we know, the landmines and other explosives that were used against our soldiers could have been manufactured in these houses,” he said, adding that the two raided houses were frequently visited by suspicious people who could have been bringing firearms and explosives for safekeeping.
Six individuals arrested during the raid were charged on Monday before the Tacloban City Prosecutor’s Office for illegal possession of firearms, with four of the accused also charged for illegal possession of explosives.
Lawyer Marlon Bosantog, legal counsel of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, said that accusations of planting of evidence leveled against the police and military that conducted the raid is a standard defense.
“It is easy to say that those firearms and explosives were planted. That is a standard defense,” Bosantog said.
Meanwhile, Diñoso expressed his sadness over the arrest of the activists and sympathized with their parents who were also shocked by the incident as most of them were not aware how deeply involved their children were with the communist group.
“The only thing that destroyed these children is the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army). They were the ones who deceived, molded, and pushed these people to do what they did,” Diñoso said.
“They gave them guns, they gave them explosives. We cannot say if they know how to use these, if they owned them or not, but these were under their possession. They, too, are victims of radicalization, they are victims of the CPP-NPA. We see their families as victims too,” he added.