The Philippine military sharply criticized prison officials yesterday over the escape of seven senior communist rebels, saying their breakout in a raid by their comrades had wasted years of effort and resources to put them behind bars.
In a rare public expression of anger, the military urged government officials to take decisive steps to punish those responsible for Saturday’s escape of the seven ranking New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas from Quezon provincial prison.
About 30 communist guerrillas, disguised as anti-narcotics agents and SWAT commandos, talked their way into the poorly guarded prison compound, saying they were to take custody of some of the inmates.
They then overwhelmed the guards on duty, Quezon police chief Fidel Posadas said.
Some of those freed were senior guerrilla commanders captured by the army in recent months. The raiders locked up prison guards in a cell before fleeing in four vans. The attack lasted just 15 minutes and without a shot being fired, Posadas said.
“The incident laid to waste years of careful planning, perilous operations and resources in capturing top NPA leaders in Quezon,” the military said in a statement. “We expect that decisive actions will be undertaken to punish those who are liable and put an end to these recurring incidents.”
The raid happened despite prior warnings to local jail authorities of a possible escape attempt, and the military said the freeing of the rebels made the government’s counterinsurgency campaign in the region “more difficult.”
About half the prison’s 50 guards and the deputy warden were in Manila for a seminar, considerably weakening the jail’s defenses at the time of the attack, Posadas said. The warden, his deputy and at least 14 prison guards have already been fired by local officials for security lapses in the jail, about 110km southeast of Manila, he said.
The 5,000-strong Maoist rebels have been waging a rebellion in the country’s rural regions for nearly 40 years. They have escalated their attacks against government forces in recent months to gain badly needed weapons, the military says.
Norwegian-brokered peace talks stalled in 2004 after the rebels accused the government of instigating their inclusion in US and European terrorist blacklists.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications