Physicist-professor arrested in post NPA-AFP clash

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 03 October) — A physicist and former professor was “intercepted” by Army soldiers near the site of a clash with the New People’s Army in Spur Dos, Barangay Aliwagwag in Cateel, Davao Oriental on Tuesday and was turned over to the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG), the Army’s brigade commander said.

Col. Benjamin Madrigal, chief of the 701st Infantry Brigade, told MindaNews in a telephone interview late Wednesday night that Prof. Kim Gargar was “intercepted” near the clash site, allegedly armed with an M-16 rifle.

Charges of violation of the election gun ban, two counts of attempted murder and illegal possession of explosives were filed against Gargar.

But Gargar’s lawyer, Joel Mahinay of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Movement (UPLM) told MindaNews early Thursday evening that Gargar “is not an NPA as his active practice of his profession will show.”

Prof. Kim Gargar. Photo from his Facebook account
Prof. Kim Gargar. Photo from his Facebook account

In his early 30s, Gargar, according to his Linkedin account, is presently the Local and International Networking Officer of the Quezon City-based Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippine (CEC-Phils), a non-government organization founded in 1989 that “closely works with communities and organizations nationwide, supporting their initiatives to nurture their ecosystems, defend their common access to natural resources, and eventually improve their living and working conditions in the context of a balanced and healthy environment.”

Madrigal said five soldiers were injured while a member of the NPA was killed during the clash. Madrigal said Gargar suffered no gunshot wounds but sustained a minor head and foot injury. He said Gargar was administered first aid and brought to the provincial
hospital in Mati City, Davao Oriental.

Juland Suazo, spokesperson of the environmental group, Panalipdan Southern Mindanao, told MindaNews that Gargar, who is from their partner NGO, was in the area to do an appraisal of the impact of super typhoon Pablo on the biodiversity there. Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces were the hardest hit provinces when super typhoon Pablo struck on December 4 last year. Spur Dos is at the boundary of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

Suazo said Gargar was among 69 members of a fact-finding team in mid-April 2013 documenting the March 4 killing of Baganga village councilor Cristina Jose and the state of the environment in the typhoon-hit areas in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

Research

Suazo said Gargar returned to Davao Oriental in August to pursue his research.

Madrigal narrated that troops from the 67th IB were deployed to Spur Dos following intelligence reports that the NPA would set off landmines in the area. He said a landmine exploded at around 2 a.m. Tuesday, injuring five soldiers, followed by a 30-minute clash.

He said Gargar was “found a few hundred meters away from the clash, at around 4 p.m. Tuesday. Madrigal added that Gargar corrected the soldiers who identified the slain NPA as “Ryan.” Madrigal said Gargar told the soldiers the slain NPA was “Yoyong.”

A press release issued by the Public Information Office of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) on October 3 said Gargar was “captured by the troops who were pursuing the rebels after a firefight in Aliwagwag.”

It said Gargar was “found unconscious while clutching a rifle 200 meters away from the encounter site.”

“An M16 rifle, landmines and subversive documents were recovered,” it added.

1.5 kilometers away

The CIDG filed a complaint for violation of the election gun ban, two counts of attempted murder and illegal possession of explosives against Gargar. After the inquest proceedings, the provincial fiscal filed the charge in court Thursday.

Gargar’s lawyer, Mahinay, who visited the scientist at the hospital in Mati on Thursday, denied the allegations against his client.

He said Gargar was in the area researching on the impact of super typhoon Pablo on the biodiversity in the devastated areas.

Mahinay noted that according to the affidavits of soldier-witnesses, Gargar was found 1.5 kilometers away from the encounter site.

Mahinay told MindaNews that Gargar was not unconscious when the soldiers found him. “The explosives and firearms were not in his possession when he was arrested,” Mahinay said.

Columnist, Scientist

Gargar writes a column, “Gulong ng Buhay” for Pinoyweeklyonline.

Information from Gargar’s Linkedin account shows he is from Iligan City and is presently “Local and International Networking Officer” at the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines and a PhD student at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands. He started his PhD in 2009 and did research on “Analyzing a mathematical model of the mammalian circadian pacemaker.”

His previous employment was as Research Director for Computational Sciences at the Mapua Institute of Technology from January to December 2008; Assistant Professor at Mapua Institute of Technology from July 2007 to December 2008; Technical Writer at Asian Development Bank from December 2006 to June 2007; Instructor at Polytechnic University of the Philippines from December 2005 to December 2006; Patent
Researcher/Consultant at Makati Design from February to November 2006; Department Head at Mindanao Polytechnic State College from June 2004 to October 2005; Instructor at Mindanao Polytechnic State College from June 2003 to May 2004; and Teaching Associate at University of the Philippines from June 2000 to May 2003.

He has been with CEC since February 2013.

According to Zoominfo, Gargar is a member of Agham (Advocates of Science and Technology for the Peoples) who graduated magna cum laude from the UP National Institute of Physics. Gargar is finishing his PhD in Chronobiology at the Netherlands university. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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