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NPA admits kidnapping DENR surveyors

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The New People’s Army (NPA) on Monday owed up to the abduction of environment department surveyors in Compostela Valley and condemned the use of drones, which it described as “indiscriminate weapons of mass genocide.”

Daniel Ibarra, spokesman of the NPA Compostela Valley-Davao Gulf Sub-Regional Command, said the surveyors had undertaken reconnaissance activities and had assisted in the campaign against the revolutionary forces.

“The NPA denounces the use of drones and other reconnaissance devices that are ultimately indiscriminate weapons of mass genocide and civilian destruction,” Ibarra said.

The abducted surveyors, Ibarra claimed, are connected to the Sky Eye UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), which was supposedly tapped by the Environment Department for its greening program.  

“The NPA maintains that the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) - Skyeye’s anti-logging aerial reconnaissance is merely a pretext to intensify imperialist mining plunder and counter-revolutionary intelligence in Southern Mindanao,” Ibarra said.

“The DENR’s UAV use is far from protecting the environment, but is mainly to defend the interest of the big mining companies that are guilty of destroying and plundering our environment,” he added.

Ibarra said the surveyors would be released if Skyeye stops its “surveillance and intelligence activities” in the area.

Last Saturday, the military reported that six DENR survey inspectors were kidnapped by unidentified men in Barangay New Leyte in Maco town at around 2 p.m.

The kidnap victims were identified as Kendrik Wong; Nico Lasaca; Chris Favila, Jonas Loredo, Tim Sabina and Matthew Cua.

Officials earlier said that the surveyors might have been mistaken for spies because they had used drones to assess a government greening program.

Ibarra, however, said only five persons have been “arrested” by their troops. Cua, said to be one of the owners of Skyeye, was not in the NPA’s list but has yet to surface.

Rebel forces confiscated a sky surfer drone and two multi-rotor drones, two laptops and one global positioning system from the surveyors.

The military condemned the kidnapping and urged human rights advocates to look into the incident.

The act is a violation of CAHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law). Civilians should not be the target of abduction,” said Cpt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Armed Force Eastern Mindanao Command.

Caber said security forces would continue to take orders from the crisis committee led by Maco Vice Mayor Voltaire Rimando to ensure the conduct of calculated operations. (with reports from Venice Amoroso and Anna Bajo)

ALBERTO CABER

ARMED FORCE EASTERN MINDANAO COMMAND

BARANGAY NEW LEYTE

CHRIS FAVILA

COMPOSTELA VALLEY

COMPOSTELA VALLEY-DAVAO GULF SUB-REGIONAL COMMAND

COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT

DANIEL IBARRA

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

IBARRA

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