Victims not “surrenderees”: Condemn AFP/Eastmincom for torture of four pregnant women

Let us expose and condemn the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) for abducting six people, including four pregnant women and an infant, and keeping them secretly detained, hostaged and tortured for two to four months.

The victims of the AFP’s black operations of unlawful abduction, secret detention and torture are:

1) Cherilyn Rebita (Ka Jan), Red fighter, pregnant at the time of abduction

2) Jackilyn Egtob (Ka Jane), Red fighter, wounded

3) Aurily Havana (Ka Laiza), 23, Red fighter, pregnant and a resident of Brgy. Lydia, La Paz, Agusan del Sur

4) Jennifer Binungkasan (Ka Laile), 19, Red fighter, pregnant and a resident of Sitio Bulak, Brgy. Lower Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte

5) Roselle Polinar, civilian, pregnant at the time of abduction

6) JR, civilian, husband of Polinar

7) Baby Rhea, 2-months old, daughter of Rebita

Last January 7, the Eastmincom presented Havana, Binungkasan, Polinar and man named Cesar Corella as “NPA surrenderees,” only after their black operations were publicly exposed. Polinar and her husband were secretly detained for 134 days; Rebita and Egtob, for 69 days; and Havana and Binungkasan, for 65 days.

Recall that Rebita and Egtob were “released” by the military agents on November 3, 2022 to perform a “mission” against the NPA. Instead of following the military’s orders, they reported to their unit and planned to fight back. They posted a video on December 28 revealing their experience and appealing for the AFP to release Baby Rhea and the other hostages.

Feeling public pressure, the military agents returned Baby Rhea to the Rebita family on December 29.

The Eastmincom’s claim that the four are “surrenderees” does not correct the gross injustice and crimes of illegal detention, torture and intimidation that they were made to suffer. Officers of the Eastmincom, the 402nd IBde and their military agents must be made to answer for their crimes.

The various forms of brutality they performed against the victims are brazen violations of international humanitarian law, especially provisions that give special protection to pregnant women and infants.

These violate even the laws of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), including its Anti-Terror Law. These altogether contravene basic laws of humanity and civility. The war criminals must be punished. State terrorism under Marcos must be put to end.

We call on the Filipino people, especially human rights groups, defenders of women’s and children’s rights, peace advocates and other organizations to exert efforts to expose the AFP’s black operations and help the victims attain justice.

Victims not "surrenderees": Condemn AFP/Eastmincom for torture of four pregnant women