MANILA (UPDATE) — A tearful and frustrated Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas lost her composure Thursday as she castigated Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla over his comments on 2 environmental activists.
Environmentalists Jhed Reiyana Tamano and Jonila Castro claimed in Tuesday morning's press conference organized by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that they were abducted and threatened by soldiers, contrary to reports that they voluntarily surrendered.
Remulla accused the two activists of following a "new playbook" of communist rebels, supposedly in a bid to gain public sympathy.
But Brosas took offense at Remulla's statement.
"We wish the Justice Department had been more prudent and discerning in its statements on these issues. Buhay at kamatayan ang nangyayari sa mga mamamayan natin, wag naman kayong ganiyan," she said.
"I have so many questions on the DOJ. I move to defer the budget," Brosas said.
The department's budget sponsor then defended Remulla's remark, which drew Brosas to tears.
"Paano maa-assure yung impartiality ng Department of Justice on the investigation given that the statements made by Sec. Remulla seems to be very biased against Jed and Jonila, and seems to have already painted the 2 environmental activists as part of the CPP-NPA," Brosas said.
The plenary had no action on Brosas' motion as it was suspended and when it was resumed, the session moved on to other matters.
'WE FELT BETRAYED'
Meanwhile, the Philippine Army is mulling filing charges against the environmental activists, Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Roy Galido said.
Galido said the Army “felt betrayed” after Tamano and Castro claimed that they were abducted by soldiers, contrary to the claim of the military and police that they surrendered.
“We are a country of laws. We have rules. We felt betrayed that’s why we will file the necessary case. We just have to use our laws. When you are also betrayed, when clients are betrayed, they file a case against you. We just have to follow the rule of law,” Galido told reporters at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
The Army chief said they stood by military and police accounts that both women gave themselves up voluntarily to the 70th Infantry Battalion in Bulacan after they were reported missing in early September.
He stressed there was no “blunder” on the part of the military.
“We never failed in our mission, that’s why there was no blunder. Maybe the other group had a blunder,” Galido said. “We are true to what we are doing right now. We are very transparent in our action and the blunder is probably a mechanism created by another group.”
“Based on their sworn statement, which will be part of the case, they are the ones who went to us. Sila ang lumapit asking for assistance for them to be facilitated because we have this program of encouraging people supporting the terrorist group to go back to mainstream society and be more productive,” he added.
Galido said the soldiers who handled Tamano and Castro did not commit any violation.
He also challenged those who see a violation on the part of the military to file a case against them.
Despite the unexpected turn of events, Galido said they do not see a need to implement changes in protocols in handling rebel returnees.