Wounded NPA leader prefers to stay in military hospital
Davao City (15 February) -- A wounded Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) leader prefers to stay inside a military hospital at Camp Apolinario in Davao City despite protests from his relatives, lawyers and militant groups, a top Philippine Army official said.
Maj. Gen. Carlos Holganza, commanding general of the Army's 10th Infantry (Agila) Division, said that Zaldy Canete, alias "Ka Jinggoy," alleged ranking official of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, wants to stay at the Panacan Station hospital for security reasons and further medical attention.
Canete was wounded and captured during a recent gun battle with government troops in Southern Mindanao.
Holganza said Canete expressed his desire to stay and be treated inside a military hospital during the visit of Regional Trial Court-11 Executive Judge Hilarion Clapis Jr. and Canete's lawyers to see his condition over the weekend.
When asked by his mother, sister, lawyers and members of the Karapatan group if he would like to be transferred to Davao Medical Center, Canete vehemently refused, saying he preferred to stay at the Panacan hospital.
Accompanying the legal team and Canete's relatives in their visit, General Holganza nodded in approval, saying that it is a welcome development.
"The health and safety of Zaldy Canete is our paramount concern and we believe that he has seen how our medical staff worked so hard to provide him proper medical care," Holganza said.
"This is a vindication on our part as we have been at the receiving end of malicious, concocted and baseless accusations from some self-proclaimed human rights groups," he added.
It maybe recalled that Karapatan earlier protested the confinement of Canete in a military hospital, citing reports of alleged unfair treatment, among other reasons.
The turn of events is seen by authorities as a boost in their campaign to win back more NPA rebels into the fold of the law.
"Many of them will now realize that they are safe and will be taken care of, whether they are wounded in combat or surrendered peacefully. Their leaders have been deceiving them in saying that they will be tortured or even killed if they surrender but the care and concern we gave to Canete and countless others who were wounded or have surrendered shattered that lie which they have been feeding their members to prevent them from surrendering," Holganza said.
"Our line units are receiving surrender fillers as a result of the wide media coverage given to the case of Canete which showed the real picture of the AFP's respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the government's sincerity in the peace efforts," he added.
The government's peace efforts in Southern Mindanao region scored a record high when 289 NPA rebels surrendered in 2009, significantly reducing the communists' fighting capability in Region 11 and nearby areas.
In December last year, Jorge Madlos, alleged high ranking leader of the CPP-NPA Komisyon Mindanao (KOMMID) in Mindanao, indirectly admitted their loss in terms of manpower, saying they needed more fighters if they have to win over the AFP, Capt. Emmanuel F. Garcia, 10th ID chief of Public Affairs Office, said. (PIA) [top]