Friday, February 7, 2014

Female rebel losing hope she’ll be free under Aquino

Female rebel losing hope she’ll be free under Aquino

Philippine Daily Inquirer
9:30 pm | Thursday, February 6th, 2014

FORMER NPA guerrilla Vanessa de los Reyes in a wheelchair at Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City where she is under hospital arrest. De los Reyes says that while she wishes to be free, she is losing hope it will happen under the Aquino administration. GERMELINA LACORTE/INQUIRER MINDANAO
DAVAO CITY—Almost three years after she was wounded, captured and placed under hospital arrest, former New People’s Army (NPA) fighter Vanessa de los Reyes said she wished to be free but doubted  the government would grant it, even on humanitarian grounds.

“My birthday wish? It’s to get out of here,”  said the 29-year-old former NPA fighter  in  Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), skillfully rolling her wheelchair in front of  student activists who came to cheer her up on her birthday on Feb. 4.
“But it’s obvious that  letting me out for humanitarian reason is no longer acceptable for the government,” said De los Reyes. “I still wish to be released, even on bail.”

As hope for peace talks between the government and communist guerrillas to resume dims, De los Reyes said her only hope for release was to be able to post bail. The next question that haunts her, however, is where to get the P600,000 in bail set for her temporary freedom.

After her capture in May 2011, when she was seriously wounded in a clash with soldiers in Davao Oriental province, the lean and soft-spoken former fighter has been recuperating in the SPMC compound under tight security by police.
De los Reyes, whose wound has affected her spinal column, was charged with four counts of frustrated murder in July 2011, barely two months after her capture.

A group, calling itself Free Vanessa de los Reyes Movement, has been pleading for her release on humanitarian grounds. Three years after her capture, however, De los Reyes said she was losing hope that the government would free her.

“I can hardly expect that from the government, which even refuses to recognize that political prisoners exist in this country,” she said.

She said the Aquino administration continued to treat political prisoners like common criminals.
De los Reyes was wounded while trying to save another wounded comrade during the clash in Cateel town, Davao Oriental.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, then vice mayor, had her airlifted from Bislig town, Surigao del Sur province, to SPMC here. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao