Army beefs up security at jail holding top rebels
The 303rd Infantry Brigade has beefed up the forces of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to secure the Negros Occidental District Jail in Barangay Tabunan, Bago City, where a notorious rebel leader and his wife are detained on non-bailable charges, its commander, Col. Jon Aying, said yesterday.
While they have not received any report on attempts to rescue detained rebel leader Reniel Cellon and his wife, Mary Jane Magquilat, so far, Aying said they are not taking chances. He added, however, that, actually that is the usual plan for inmates with non-bailable cases, as their lawyers have also recommended. Aying said they have deployed soldiers in the vicinity of the Provincial Jail since the first day Cellon was committed there.
Cellon, Magquilat and four other suspected rebels, are facing charges for violation of the Comelec gun ban before the Kabankalan Regional Trial Court, after the recovery of firearms and explosives from them, and from the vehicle they were riding, when they were intercepted at a checkpoint in Ilog last week. This is on top of the murder and frustrated murder charges Cellon and Magquilat are facing, police records show.
Senior Supt. Celestino Guara, caretaker of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, confirmed yesterday that they have received reports on plans of the New People’s Army to rescue Cellon, who is the commander of the NPA Southwest Front Sentro De Grabidad platoon. Guara also said they have dispatched policemen to the Provincial Jail in Bago City.* GPB
NPA attempts to rescue arrested leader
NEGROS Occidental Police Office (Noppo) chief Celestino Guara said the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attempted to rescue their top leader including other rebel members who were nabbed in Barangay Dancalan, Ilog last week. The rebels were arrested during a checkpoint in the said barangay in relation to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban. Arrested were rebel leader Reniel Cellon and wife, Mary Jane Magquilat; and four rebel members identified as Jose Sonny Boy Ditomal, 41; Rodrigo Maricasa, 49; Antonio Estaniel, 51; and Edson Gonzales, 20.
Last Monday, additional charges for violation of the Comelec gun ban were filed before the Kabankalan Regional Trial Court against the arrested NPA rebels. Police recovered a .45 caliber pistol, owned by the slain PFC John Ilisan; a fragmentation grenade owned by NPA commander Cellon; and a.22 pistol which was seized from Magquilat. Guara said the Philippine National Police (PNP), the military, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) are on alert and may augment forces in Ilog where the alleged NPA leader and hid companions are detained.
Guara stressed that they are prepared against such rescue attempts and plans of the NPA to rescue their leader and comrades. Cellon, commander of the Sentro De Grabida Platoon of the NPA South West Front Committee, was linked by the military to numerous incidents of liquidation in southern Negros which victimized Ilisan, former rebels, and paramilitary troopers. Also recovered in Cellon’s vehicle were rifle grenade, hundreds of live ammunition for an M-16 armalite rifle and carbine, subversive documents and assorted food. The Kabankalan RTC has recommended P12,000 as bail for each count of violation of the Comelec gun ban against the suspects. Aside from the gun ban charges, Cellon and Magquilat are also facing charges for murder, which are non-bailable offenses, and frustrated murder.
10 Davao villages under watchlist
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Davao City police bared early this week that it has placed 10 villages in 3 districts under elections watchlist because of the presence of the New People’s Army (NPA). Speaking before the members of the media in a regular press briefing, Davao City police chief Senior Supt. Ronald dela Rosa identified the villages as Mapula, Lumiad, Panalum, Malabog and Paradise Embak in Paquibato district; Malamba and Tamugan in Marilog district; and Tambobong, Tawan-tawan and Carmen in Baguio district.
Authorities are stepping-up its security measures to ensure the safe conduct of elections in said areas, dela Rosa added. The need to increase the number of policemen and military personnel in the stated areas are already being considered by the Joint Security Coordinating Committee of the city that includes the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Dela Rosa also clarified that the 10 villages are classified under watchlist category 2 due to the presence of the NPAs. Category 1 involves the existence of severe political rivalries.
The identified villages in Paquibato and Marilog districts were already included in the watchlist during the 2010 elections. Due to the consistent reports they received on the presence of the NPAs, the areas in Baguio district were recently added to the list, the police officer clarified.
1 killed as NPA rebels attack Army outpost
A civilian was killed when New People’s Army rebels fired at an Army outpost in Panabo City, Davao del Norte, on Monday, a military official said Tuesday. Captain Nathaniel Morales, information officer of the Army’s 1003rd Infantry Brigade based in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, said Elias Acero succumbed to gunshot wounds after NPA rebels shot at the command post of the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion in Dalisay village around 8:30 a.m.
The attack came as a lecture on peace and development was ongoing at the battalion headquarters in the village, according to Morales. “The victim was riding on a dump truck that passed by the adjacent road and was on his way to Panabo City proper,” said Morales.
Soldiers responded and returned fire at the enemy position believed some 200 meters from the rear command post, sparking a brief firefight. The rebels then fled. Acero died upon reaching the nearest hospital, Morales added. Colonel Buenaventura Pascual, 1003rd Infantry Brigade commander, condemned the incident.
Riot At Corinth Migrant Detention Center
Immigrants rounded up in sweep of Athens and Greek cities who were being held in a detention center on a former military base in Corinth clashed with police on April 10, leading to 47 Afghans being arrested, authorities said, according to AP. A police statement said officers fired tear gas alleged to have thrown roof-tiles at them and who set fire to buildings in the complex in southern Greece.
An immigrant rights group claimed the trouble started after police beat up a detainee who had refused food to protest the extension of his detention. More than 5,000 people are held in similar complexes. Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized the detention conditions. Greece is struggling to cope with waves of immigrants who see the country as the easiest gateway to asylum or a stepping-stone to other European Union countries. The government has complained it is not getting enough help from the EU to cope with the numbers.
Three Ohio inmates from SOCF riot announce hunger strike
On the 20th anniversary of the longest and deadliest prison riot in United States history, three of the five Ohio inmates sentenced to death from the riot say they will begin a hunger strike today to protest the state’s refusal to allow them sit-down media interviews on their cases. Siddique Abdullah Hasan, formerly known as Carlos Sanders; Keith LaMar and Jason Robb, have informed officials at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown of their intentions. James Were, another of the Lucasville Five, is diabetic and will not take part.
The fifth man sentenced to death after the riot, George Skatzes, is incarcerated in Chillicothe. Skatzes is the inmate who gained worldwide attention when he was allowed to deliver demands during a live radio broadcast during the riot. Hasan told the Associated Press, “We have been suffering very torturous conditions for two decades. We have never been given the opportunity completely to speak about our cases, to speak to the media because the media has an enormous amount of power. They can get our message out to the court of public opinion.”
“We do have a hunger strike policy,” JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction told the Daily Times Wednesday. “Once an inmate refuses nine consecutive meals, that individual is considered to be officially on a hunger strike, and there are core elements within the policy as to how that is handled.” The official policy identifies a hunger striker as an inmate who is ingesting only non-nutritional substances or an extreme minimum of nutritional substances for greater than two days.
One brunch meal is counted as two meals for the purpose of determining status as a hunger striker. “It is the policy of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to monitor any inmate who is participating in a hunger strike and to force treatment before death or serious, irreversible damage to life support systems or major organs occurs,” the policy reads. “After a hunger striker has been identified, the responsible deputy warden will inform the managing officer, the Bureau of Medical Services chief, and the Hunger Strike Team members via e-mail. The responsible deputy warden shall notify the medical department via e-mail in all cases and the mental health department in those cases where the inmate in on the mental health caseload.”
The policy goes on to say the inmate will be transferred to a single cell to facilitate monitoring by the security staff and the security officer will maintain a detailed hunger strike log. Under the title “Medical Procedures,” the manual says, “The medical staff shall provide the necessary medical services and may encourage the inmate to eat, but should not attempt to intervene in the issues that provoked the hunger strike. The institution Advanced Level Provider (ALP) shall counsel the inmate about the possible consequences of continued fasting.”
Another part of the manual says, “Forced treatment shall be recommended for the inmate when the Chief Medical Officer has determined that further fasting is reasonably likely to cause death or serious permanent damage to the inmate’s health. The decision to initiate forced medical treatment shall be based on the patient’s total physical and mental health condition, not merely on any individual test result.” Ten deaths were attributed to the riot – nine were inmates – and one was corrections officer Robert Vallandingham.
Australia-Bound Immigrants Run Amok at Police Station in Serang
Serang. Police in Serang, Banten, have named three people as suspects from a group of Iranian and Iraqi immigrants who rioted at the local police headquarters on Wednesday. Adj. Sr. Comr. Ady Soeseno said the incident began with the arrest on Wednesday morning of 70 illegal immigrants in Serang’s Lontar village. He said 19 of them attempted to flee, but were caught. They were then brought to the Serang Police headquarters for processing.
However, several of them turned violent and a riot ensued, Ady said. They smashed two windows at the police station and some attempted to escape again but were rounded up by police. “We then decided to take them to a hotel to prevent any further damage to property at the police station,” Ady said, adding that they were now in the custody of the Serang immigration office.
Three of the immigrants who were believed to have incited the rioting have been named suspects for criminal vandalism. “We have no choice but to charge them. We’ll question them soon,” Ady said. Adj. Sr. Comr. T.P. Damanik, the head of the Banten Police’s subdirectorate on people smuggling, said separately that the immigrants were believed to be planning to travel to Australia by boat.
Protesters blocked from reaching French Embassy
BEIRUT: Riot police blocked the street leading to the French Embassy in Beirut Thursday to prevent supporters of Leftist militant George Abdallah from nearing the site. Members of the Internal Security Forces closed off the Damascus road in both directions as a precautionary measure after pro-Abdallah activists called for a massive rally. Last week, the French judiciary further delayed Abdallah’s release, arguing that he should spend a minimum of one more year in probation before parole can be admissible.
The decision came from the Court of Cassation in response to litigation prepared by a French prosecutor, who appealed an earlier judicial decision that granted Abdallah parole on the condition that he is deported. According to the court’s decision obtained by the AFP, Abdallah could be put under electronic surveillance and spend just a few hours outside prison every day during probation.
The ruling came earlier than a session scheduled for next week. The decision angered many of the 61-year-old prisoner’s friends and supporters who gathered outside the French Embassy last Thursday, and warned that they would escalate their action if Lebanese officials fail to demand Abdallah’s release.
Serving a life sentence in France on charges of murdering American and Israeli diplomats, Abdallah was granted parole last year. But the court’s ruling was appealed after the Interior Ministry refused to deport him. The French court invalidated last year’s parole and left it up to the defense to file another request for Abdallah’s parole in a year’s time.
Clashes in Algeria as poor protest against lack of housing
At least 40 people including 22 riot police members were seriously injured in clashes which erupted Wednesday in the city of Ouargla in southern Algeria, while protestors were demonstrating against “housing the poor.” Witnesses said a number of protesters were wounded when police fired rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse them. In turn, members of the riot police had stones hurled at them by protesters as they tried to break up the demonstration. Protesters were also seen setting fire to car tires and blocking roads.
The distribution of free apartments, which has been granted by the authorities to the poor and low-income families in Algeria, has led to a new wave of angst. This comes after unemployed youths in Algeria’s southern states, which are rich in oil and gas, took to the streets.
Protests in Ouargla were questioning the transparency of the apartment distribution process, as the government released a list of people who were eligible. Rashid Chouikh, the editor in chief of “al-Jadid” newspaper in southern Algeria, told Al Arabiya that “the protests in the city of Ouargla brought together neighborhoods in its surrounding areas”. Two days before Ouargla’s protests, violence broke out in the Constantine Province for the same reason. Algerian authorities are now worried about a wave of angry demonstrations.
The chairman of the National Committee for the Unemployed Taher Belabbas said “the cause behind the protests in the city of Ouargla is the false promises made by the government about housing the poor, employing the unemployed, and solving the problems around development in the Southern region in general”.
Colombia’s ELN rebels offer to swap Canadian captive for mining titles
BOGOTA, April 10 — Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas on Wednesday proposed to swap a Canadian captive for mining titles held by his employer, Braeval. “A sign of its (Braeval’s) willingness to negotiate would be the return of the mining titles that it swindled from the traditional mining communities,” said a statement from the ELN, the South American country’s second-largest armed leftist group.
Jernoc Wobert, a 47-year-old geologist, was working for the Toronto, Canada-based company as vice president of exploration, when he was abducted from a mining camp on Jan. 18. According to the guerrilla group, the titles were initially granted to the local mining communities, but were later sold to Braeval by corrupt politicians. The ELN said it captured the Canadian to protest against the mining and energy policies of the Colombian government and its multinational partners, which are plundering the nation’s natural resources.
The ELN also warned Colombian authorities and Braeval against military action for the release of the hostage. Five others kidnapped along with Wobert — three Colombians and two Peruvians — were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross a few weeks after their abduction.