DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 January) — The New People’s Army member who was arrested on New Year’s Day in Toril District here expressed regrets he trusted the mutual ceasefire between the National Democratic Front and government as a protection for his stay in the city during the Christmas season.
Speaking to reporters from his detention cell inside the Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG) building within Camp Domingo Leonor, Edwin Brigano said, “Nawala akong pagsalig sa (I lost trust in the) GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) ug sa ilang gi-deklara nga (and their declaration of) ceasefire,” he said.
“Labi na sa Davao, klaro kaayo ang pamaskong pamahayag ni Mayor Sara ug Vice Mayor Duterte (Especially in Davao City, the Christmas message of Mayor Sara and Vice Mayor Duterte to the rebels was very clear),” he added.
Standing over the bare cell, which only had a mat and few belongings on the floor, Brigano said the ceasefire declaration and the invitation from the city’s two highest officials to NPA rebels to come down and spend Christmas with their families had not prevented his arrest.
Teresita Comendador, Brigano’s mother-in-law, said he was arrested at their house in Baliok, Bago Gallera in Toril at 3 o’clock dawn on New Year’s Day, three days before the ceasefire ended.
The ceasefire was declared to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the NDF next month.
Comendador said police pushed open the door of the house and searched the kitchen and the rooms to find him. They handcuffed him as soon as they found him in one of the rooms and rushed him outside.
“It was very fast,” she said, “I had to run to keep up with them. He was only wearing shorts and a shirt. I had to leave the house barefoot just to see where they were taking him.”
Of the six vehicles that went to her house, only one reached Camp Leonor where Brigano was immediately brought, Comendador said, adding he had no firearms when he was arrested because he was only in the city for medical treatment.
She also said the family was not aware that Brigano had been hospitalized in the city since October because he only showed up in December to visit his family.
She said her son-in-law must have trusted the ceasefire declaration enough because he visited his family twice in December.
Brigano admitted that the ceasefire declaration made him a bit lax about his security.
“Nikumpiyansa ko (I became lax). I was hospitalized and then got carried away by the talks about ceasefire and the mayor’s invitation to NPA rebels. On January 1, at 3 am, police suddenly came to arrest me,” he said.
“So, I said, don’t they respect the declaration of the mayor and the vice mayor?” he asked.
Brigano said he was not completely healed yet and that he had “difficulty walking”.
Police said the arrest did not have anything to do with Brigano’s being an NPA but with the pending warrant of arrest against him.
Supt. Querubin Manalang, spokesperson of the regional police office in Region 11, said police based the arrest on the warrant issued by Judge Patricio Balite of the Regional Trial Court Branch 6 in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur for double frustrated homicide and robbery with homicide.
It was also learned that Brigano has another warrant of arrest issued by RTC Branch 3 in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley for the crime of rebellion.
But Brigano remained defiant and promised [his] comrades he will not betray the revolution.
He told the “masses not to get discouraged” by his capture and promised his comrades he will “not reveal anything that would damage the revolution.”
“Akong ipaabot sa katawhan, sa mga masa, dili sila bation og kasubo sa pagsikop nako (I want to tell the masses not to get discouraged by my capture,” said Brigano, his hands gripping tightly the blue-painted bars of his cell as he faced the cameras.
“Gisaad nako sa mga kauban wala koy maski gamay nga kadaot nga gihimo sa rebolusyon (I promise comrades I did not do anything that could damage the revolution,” he told the reporters who accompanied his aunts who have not seen him in 32 years. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)