NDF-Negros demands release of ailing ex-priest Frank Fernandez, companions
BACOLOD CITY — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Negros is demanding the release of former Catholic priest Frank Fernandez and his wife Cleofe Lagtapon for humanitarian reasons.
In a statement, the NDFP-Negros said Fernandez, 71, and Lagtapon, 66, were seeking medical treatment in Laguna when they were arrested last Saturday.
“They must be immediately released on the basis of justice, propriety and for humanitarian considerations,” the statement said.
The NDFP-Negros found it ridiculous that the military and police would plant firearms and explosives on the couple considering their old age and the status of Fernandez’ health.
The military claimed that three .45 caliber pistols, three hand grenades, cellular phones, USB ports that contained anti-government documents were recovered from the couple and their companion Gee-Ann Perez, 20.
The NDFP-Negros said the three had not been presented to their lawyer since their arrest on Saturday.
“This is an outright violation of their human rights. The Filipino people are well aware of the AFP and PNP’s brutal and merciless nature. Ka Frank and his companions are in real danger of physical and psychological torture,” the NDFP-Negros said.
Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Brigade commander in Negros, assured the families of the three that they were being treated well.
“It is a lie and cheap propaganda to say that Fernandez and his companions are being mistreated,” he said.
Arevalo said Fernandez no longer enjoyed immunity since the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) ceased to take effect after President Duterte terminated the peace talks.