Human rights worker tagged as NPA tax collector seized in Tagum City

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 17 January) – A worker of Karapatan in Mindanao was abducted by still unknown assailants on Wednesday morning, an official of the human rights group said on Thursday.

In a statement Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay identified the victim as Racquel Quintano, spokesperson of Kalumonan, an organization of kin of political prisoners in Southern Mindanao.

The military, however, said Quintano, an alleged New People’s Army (NPA) tax collector, voluntarily surrendered to Lt. Col. Esteveyn Ducusin, commander of the 71st Infantry Battalion based in Mawab, Compostela Valley.

Palabay said Quintano was waiting for a jeepney in Barangay Madaum, Tagum City in Davao del Norte when a black car stopped in front of her, dragged her inside and sped off.

She said Quintano’s whereabouts remain unknown despite efforts by a search team to locate her.

She blamed the incident on “State forces” and demanded Quintano’s return to her family.

“We know Racquel as a staunch rights advocate. She assisted two torture victims in the filing of their complaints at the Commission of Human Rights last year. She has worked tirelessly to seek accountability for the injustices done against the two victims, one of whom was a minor when the incident occurred,” Palabay said.

NPA tax collector?

But on Thursday, 1Lt Jhocell de Asis, spokesperson of the 71st IB said Quintano was a tax collector of the NPA’s Sub-regional Committee 2 in Southern Mindanao, and surrendered on Wednesday to Ducusin.

“Target of their extortion activities are businessmen, politicians, mining and logging (firms) and store owners wherein the collections are remitted to their higher command in the region,” De Asis said in a statement.

The 71st IB posted on Wednesday in its Facebook page an article on the alleged surrender of Quintano whom it initially identified as alias Fiona together with a supposed photo of hers with the face blurred. (MindaNews)