By Rhoda Grace B. Saron
AN alleged top leader of the New People’s Army, whose head had a bounty of P5.4 million, was deported from Malaysia where he was arrested on April 1.
In a press statement, Major Mark Anthony Tito, 10th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office chief, said Casilao – also known by alias Elian, Wally, Chan and Kuya- was arrested at Jeti Point International Clearance Gate, Langkawi, Malaysia on his way to Koh Lipe, Thailand.
Col. Michael John Mangahis, officer in charge of the Regional Field Unit of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the office has coordinated with both the regional and the city police to ensure that Casilao is protected.
“We will make sure his safety and security. We will accommodate yong kanyang lawyer, yong kanyang family we will process po na makita din na safe si Jun Casilao,” Mangahis said.
The legal counsel of Casilao, in a press statement, criticized the police for calling him a terrorist.
“We stand by our client. He is not a terrorist. He has the right to the presumption of innocence. He was not yet found guilty of the crimes imputed to him. Whatever maybe are the charges filed against him should still be proven first in court after trial, and after giving him the opportunity to be heard. Due process of law must be observed at all times,” they said.
The lawyers also lambasted the police and the government for parading “him in front of the media or the public as if he is already guilty of the cases filed against him much more as a terrorist.”
“Let it be noted that even the case for proscription filed against the CPP-NPA, the organizations to which our client allegedly belong, to declare these organizations as terrorist organizations, was dismissed by the Regional Trial Court of Manila,” they added.
They added that the action of the police put Casilao “to unwanted attack against his person and his family, exposing them to grave dangers of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings, ridicule, and contempt.”
“The PNP should stop the pernicious practice or parading persons or presenting them as trophies to further their counter-insurgency campaign, to the detriment and in violation of the rights of the accused to due process of law and presumption of innocence!” they said.
Members of the legal team are lawyers Jobert I. Pahilga, Luz J. Perez, and Abegail Joy L. Aman.
The military claimed that Casilao was arrested by a joint team that included the Philippine and Malaysian law enforcers as he was included in the Malaysian Red Notice List for allegedly presenting a passport with a fake identity.
The military added that among the warrants issued against him were for cases of murder, kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and attempted murder.
In the military press statement, Arian Jane Ramos, former secretary of Guerilla Front 55, said she thought Casilao was in nearby regions of the country.
“As an NPA cadre, leaving one’s NPA unit goes against the CPP’s doctrine. How much more leaving the country? NPA cadres are expected to lead their people on the ground. However, in the case of Casilao, he left SMRC and the country because he could not bear the suffering that SMRC was experiencing. He left, thinking only of saving himself, and leaving his comrades to either die of hunger or in armed encounters,” Ramos said.
In the same press statement, Joy James Saguino, former deputy secretary of Sub-Regional Committee 1 of the outlawed group, only showed the selfishness and treacherous behavior of their leaders.
“While the organization continues to wage its decades-long insurgency in the Philippines, it is clear that most of its leaders are more concerned with their own personal gain than with the welfare of their followers,” Saguino said.
Major. Gen Jose Eriel M. Niembra, 10th Infantry Division commander, said leaders of the group have no safe place to hide.
“The government is determined to capture CTG (communist terrorist group) leaders and terrorists wherever they are,” Niembra said.
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