Army official dares militants to start House probe on raids

Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Army’s 303rd Brigade here, dared militant leaders to initiate a congressional inquiry into the raids on the offices of militant organizations.

“Do it now,” an unfazed Arevalo said when asked for his reaction on the congressional inquiry being pushed by the Makabayan bloc solons.

The activists are also mulling counter-charges against state security forces that raided offices of militant organizations in Negros Occidental.

Arevalo said that they had been waiting for it since the Sagay 9 incident.

“They can even bring the whole Congress to Negros, if they would like to. We are not hiding anything,” he added.

The army commander said the probe will determine who the liars among them are.

Makabayan lawmakers composed of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and his predecessors Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño; and Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas conducted what they call a fact-finding mission in Negros Occidental in connection with the mass arrest of activists and minors on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

Arevalo lamented that the Makabayan bloc solons are using Congress to scare them. He also challenged the activists to file charges against them before the Ombudsman.

“We are serving the Republic of the Philippines. Are they also serving the Republic of the Philippines, or are they serving the Republic of Joma (Jose Maria) Sison?” he added.

The simultaneous raids in Bacolod City last month yielded more than 30 firearms and explosives. Authorities also rescued 13 minors and arrested 42 others.

Capt. Cenon Pancito III, spokesman of the 3rd Infantry Division, reiterated that they abide by the rule of law and their efforts from the start were within the legal boundaries.

“Any decision that the fiscal (prosecutor) has rendered is respected, as it is the rightful office with the authority to determine. If, indeed, there is a probable cause,” Pancito said in response to the dismissal of charges against 31 of the arrested persons.

He also said that the case has not weakened with the dismissal of charges against some of the arrested persons.

As to allegations of planting of evidence, Pancito said that the AFP and PNP rely on evidence they recovered.