4 ‘missing’ CAFGUs taken to Army base

Col. Vicente Porto, commander of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade based in Sarangani province, said the four members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), all assigned at the detachment in Barangay Bituan, Tulunan, “were just invited to shed light on the Nov. 2 raid of their detachment.”

The Valentin Palamine Command of the NPA Front 74 led by Commander Tao-tao carted away 19 Garand rifles, three M-14, one M-16 Armalite rifle, and other soldiers’ belongings, including their uniforms and cellular phones.

Porto has also confirmed reports that Cpl. Wilfredo Villanueva, detachment commander in Barangay Bituan, was brought to the headquarters of the 72nd Infantry Battalion, also to undergo thorough scrutiny.

“That was not a tactical interrogation, but an investigation,” Porto said in a radio interview.

The Army colonel has yet to find out, though, how the CAFGU members and their detachment commander are doing right now inside the headquarters.

“I have yet to ask my battalion commander assigned in Maco about their situation,” he told wives of the paramilitary men.

On Nov. 2, hours after the NPA raid in Barangay Bituan, one of the declared “Zones of Peace” in Tulunan, CAFGU members Emilio Baylosis, Fernando Lidama, Romy Abejon, and Wilfredo Lanticse were reportedly taken by unidentified armed men aboard a white pick-up vehicle.

According to a documentation made by Karapatan, a human rights group based here, wives of the paramilitary men sought the help of a nearby detachment in Barangay New Caridad, also in Tulunan, where they were told their husbands were brought to the 72IB headquarters in Maco town.

“Their husbands were on duty at the time the NPA raided the detachment in Barangay Bituan,” JV Alferez, secretary-general of Karapatan, said in an interview.

Jenille Lidama, wife of Fernando, said that for more than a week now, she and her family have undergone mental torture.

“We have no one to turn to because we depend so much on my husband. Now that he’s gone, who would take care of us,” she asked.

Alferez said the four women are plain housewives and are worried on the impact of the absence of their husbands.

Tulunan Mayor Nestor Taasan, in an interview, said he is set to meet anytime this week the officials of the 72IB to discuss the plight of the CAFGU members.