Abduction and Release of Minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Incident: Illegal Arrest/Abduction
Victim: Pastor EDWIN EGAR, Pastor, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Place of incident: Bgy. Alupay, Rosario, Batangas
Time and Date; On or around 5:30-600 pm, February 11, 2009
On February 11, 2009, Pastor Edwin Egar dropped by to deliver some household goods, rice, vegetables in the house of his niece Mrs. Ellen Lunar Delgado and his sister, Mrs. Luz Villa Luna. On or around 5:30-6:00pm a dark blue Mitsubishi Adventure with plate no MDF 543, and a Toyota corolla unknown plate number arrived. About six armed proceeded to look Pastor Edwin. When they saw him, they asked Ikaw ba si Edwin Egar? (Are you Edwin Egar) Since the men did not identify themselves he said “I am Romeo Delgado”, pretended to be Ellen’s husband. They showed a photocopied paper, told them that was a warrant of arrest, but where not shown to Edwin, and relatives. Then they dragged him to the Misubishi Adventure
Ellen and Luz tried to go with the group but they were prevented, with guns pointed at them. Pushed, Luz asked, where are you taking my brother., They replied “sumunod na lang kayo sa Camp Batangas. (Just follow to the camp in Batangas)
On board, he was handcuffed, hands behind is back, and sped away from the place.
Inside the van he was asked if he was Edwin, and he replied yes. He was asked if he knew that he has an arrest warrant, and he said yes. He told the men that the judge has already quashed the warrant.
He was asked to produce the documents of the quashing the warrant, but he cannot show any. He was then asked of his activities, i.e. where did he bring the bolos he purchased in 2005. He explained that those were part of relief goods to help farmers during the flood 2005.
He was asked repeatedly whether he knew of the charge against him, that it was murder and that there is no bail. He answered affirmatively. He was told that he could be released if he could pinpoint the whereabouts of at least two from the 72 included in the warrant. (The 72 are now known as Calpan 72. Six had been arrested, including KMU lawyer Atty Saladero. 4 have been temporarily released). He was asked of other names that were not in the warrant.
After the interrogation on board the vehicles, he asked where he is to brought, the men said to Camp Vicente Lim (Canlubang). Pastor Edwin informed them about a dialogue of church people and military and police that took place in Camp Vicente Lim in 2008. When they reached the Camp, he was brought to the Regional Intelligence Unit compound, still blindfolded. He was seated for more than 1 hour. Later, he was given food, his blindfold removed, his cuffed were brought forward so he can eat. He only saw his food server and his abductors were no longer around.
He was asked to sign a waver, indicating that he was invited, that he followed them on his own free will. And that he was not hurt.
After 30 minutes one of his abductors said, we will now turn you over to the police. He was put on board again to the van, put his blindfold again. Along the expressway, and was told that he is to be brought home.
The man in front of the vehicle told him that they do not want confrontation with relatives so he was asked where he wanted to be brought. He suggested Lipa City, but the men insisted that it should be nearer his house.
He was given instructions: that he will alight still with blindfolds. He will count 20 before removing it. He will take a jeep to the Rosario police station where his relatives were supposed to be waiting. Which he did.
At the Rosario, Batangas police station he saw his relatives, church workers and friends. He was released at around 11:00 pm and was held for a period of 5 hours from the time he was abducted.
His wallet and contents was taken from him, but his cash about P650 and L50 (pounds) were returned to him. The duplicate key of his mother’s car that he was using, Nissan was not returned.
When they returned home, Princess Janelle, 5 years old daughter Ellen, was observed to have experienced trauma from witnessing the incident, specially when a gun was pointed to Edwin’s head. She would cry and vomit and shout “mommy” and could not explain why..
February 12, 2009
STOP THE CONTINUING HARASSMENTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
The violations to the rights and dignity of persons under the presidency of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo continue with impunity. It is evident in the widespread poverty, unabated graft and corruption, and extrajudicial killings and abductions. The latest victim; Pastor Edwin Egar of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). All in all, some 20 church workers and lay leaders of the UCCP have been killed, a number imprisoned.
On February 11, 2009, on or about 5:30-6:00 pm, six unidentified armed men alighted from a van and a car, barged in the house of Mrs. Ellen Lunar Delgado, Pastor Egar’s niece in Bgy. Alupay, Rosario, Batangas. They rushed to where Pastor Egar was and forcibly dragged him into a Mitsubishi Adventure van. Ellen and Mrs. Luz Villa, Edwin’s sister, tried to go with the group but they were prevented as guns were pointed to them.
Pastor Edwin Egar has been hounded by the military for more than two years. He is being linked to the New People’s Army. The UCCP congregation in Macalamcam, Rosario, Batangas where his wife, Rev. Juliet Egar is the administrative pastor, has been tagged as a “red area” meaning, infiltrated by communist insurgents. On several occasions, church leaders presented him before military and police officers to clarify the insinuations. In fact in a dialogue participated in by high ranking military and police officials was held right in Macalamcam, the officers gave Pastor Edwin a clean bill.
Pastor Edwin is part of what is now known as Calapan 72, a group of 72 leaders of people’s organizations that included a pastor of the United Methodist church and two (2) lay leaders of the UCCP, charged with multiple murder and frustrated multiple murder by the Regional Trial Court Branch 39 in Calapan City and a warrant of arrest was issued. Six of the 72 were arrested but they were released when Hon. Manuel C. Luna, judge of the same court, quashed the said warrant in a decision rendered February 5, 2009.
Apparently, either the men who abducted Pastor Edwin were totally ignorant of the quashing of the warrant, or they just wanted to harass and inflict pain to men and women like Pastor Egar who exercised his prophetic ministry and served the poor farmers in Batangas, specially during times of disasters and hardships.
That he was not tortured nor killed is something that we can be thankful for. But as we look at the incident as part of the track record of a government that has refused admission to the incidents of human rights violation and continues to be, as stated in the report Philip Alston of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, in a state of denial, then such incidents should be condemned and denounced.
We call the police or military unit that conducted the arrest/abduction of Pastor Edwin to issue and apology since the manner of the arrest violated even accepted procedures of engagement.
We call on the government of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo not to coddle human right violators and subject them to disciplinary action as eventually, it is her regime that will be held responsible to the acts of her subordinates.
We call on our people to stand firm and defend their rights and dignity even as our country is gripped with economic crisis, moral decadence and apathy. Let us all become instruments of peace and change.