UP decries Army harassment of 3 students in Pampanga
In a statement posted on the UP website, the CSWD said the students were on their way to an Aeta community in Brgy. Camias “when a van passed by the group; four men disembarked and started asking questions about their identity.”
“The questioning later turned into accusations that the three students were organizing for the New People’s Army. The interrogation turned violent as one of the interrogators started shoving one of the students, in an effort to agitate him into a fistfight. Before the three students were let go, the four men had also taken the students’ photos without consent,” the statement added.
Military intelligence personnel
According to UP-CSWD, the detachment commander of the civilian militia in Brgy. Camias, Staff Sgt. Alfredo Fernandez, identified “elements of the Military Intelligence Batallion as having committed the harassment and branding of students as NPA sympathizers.”
The college said in its statement that the incident “threatens the viability of our programs and derails the practice of our legitimate profession.”
It also called on the military “to conduct a thorough, swift, and impartial investigation of the harassment incident, and deal accordingly with those at fault.”
Maj. Enrico Gil Ileto, spokesman of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, said they are now in close coordination with the UP faculty members concerning the plight of the three community development students.
“The Philippine Army, being a professional organization and a strong advocate of human rights, does not and will not tolerate any wrongdoings among its ranks. It is not our policy to practice the use of force beyond legal means more so physically assaulting a civilian,” Ileto said.
Ileto added that soldiers proven to be at fault shall be held responsible. “If ever we will find out that any of our personnel has resorted to extra-legal means related to this incident, we will make sure the soldier will be held liable for such acts.” — RD/ELR/KG, GMA News