Gov't task force ''betrayed'' over activists' denial
A government task force said ''it felt betrayed'' after the two activists claimed that they were abducted by the military as they denied their alleged previous statements about their voluntary surrender.
"We are appalled as we are deeply saddened by the unfortunate turn of events during this morning’s press conference at the Municipal Hall of Plaridel town in Bulacan where youths Jhed Reiyana Tamano and Jonila Castro parroted the propaganda lines of Leftist groups on their supposed abduction by security forces. We felt betrayed," the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said in a statement on Tuesday.
It explained that the "press conference was organized with only the best of intentions" for Castro and Tamano.
It noted that "the NTF-ELCAC stands by the position of the 70th Infantry Battalion under Lt Col. Ronnel Dela Cruz on the circumstances surrounding the surrender of Tamano and Castro, backed up by the duo’s respective affidavits narrating their whereabouts from the time they decided to leave the underground movement until their safe arrival at the Battalion headquarters with the help of a friend."
"We also stand by the official report of the Philippine National Police in Bataan province on the case of Ms. Tamano and Ms. Castro and leave no doubt on the authenticity and integrity of the investigation conducted by them," it stated.
"Whatever caused their sudden change of heart is beyond us. Earlier engagements by Task Force officials with the two students regarding the veracity and truthfulness of their affidavits were convincing enough to merit their public appearance. We were hoodwinked," the task force added.
NTF-ELCAC said that it "remain steadfast in ensuring the safety of the two and committed to upholding their rights as individuals under any circumstances."
"Their utterances during the LGU-facilitated press conference will definitely be looked into with the support of the other civilian agency members of the Task Force," NTF-ELCAC said.
"The holding of the press conference was imbued with a tremendous amount of good faith, notwithstanding the unimaginable outcome of the same. If their intention was to humiliate the NTF-ELCAC and those who trusted them despite the good faith we have shown, we shall remain unfazed and committed to fulfilling our mandate for the greater good of the people and of the country," it said. Robina Asido/DMS