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“Palayain ang mga bilanggong politikal!” suspected rebel Ronces Paraguso shouted as she and 6 others were ushered out of the courtroom after their arraignment on October 15. The accused pleaded “not guilty” during the arraignment at RTC Branch 51.
Human rights group Karapatan denies that the arrested were New People’s Army fighters saying that they were human rights workers.
Palawan Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or PTF-ELCAC, however, insisted that the accused were members of the communist armed group based on intelligence reports and a series of videos shown and distributed to the media.
The seven suspected rebels were arrested last October 4 at a checkpoint in Brgy. San Jose, Puerto Princesa City.
Confiscated from them were several firearms and components used to build improvised explosive devices or IEDs.
They were then charged with violation of RA 10591, or illegal possession of firearms, and violation of RA 9516, or illegal possession of explosives.