ISAFP tells daughter of abducted NDF consultant: "He's on our list but we do not have him"

The daughter of abducted NDF (National Democratic Front) consultant Leo Velasco yesterday went “camp hopping” in search of her father but failed to locate him.  She however said that their conversation with the intelligence agent at ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) strengthened her suspicion that her father is under military custody.

Lorena Santos, Velasco’s daughter who sought the help of Karapatan, was accompanied by Fr. Dionito Cabillas of Karapatan, Linda Cadapan and Lolita Robiños, mothers of two desaparecidos who also inquired with the military about their children’s whereabouts.

Personnel from the Intelligence Group and the Army Hospital in Fort Bonifacio only received the request letters of Velasco’s daughter but both offices denied having Velasco in their custody.

It was at the ISAFP where Lorena would get information that confirms her suspicion that the military is behind the continued disappearance of her father who was abducted on February 19, 2007 in Cagayan de Oro.

Lt. Col Jack Baltazar of the ISAFP spoke to Lorena and her companions. He said that Leo Velasco had long been ISAFP’s target and claims that he knows Velasco as a high-ranking New People’s Army (NPA) leader.  He further said that it if were the ISAFP who got him, they would have proudly announced it.

He confirmed Leo Velasco is on their list, but denied being involved in the abduction.  Baltazar likewise denied ISAFP’s involvement or having knowledge on the whereabouts of Mrs. Cadapan’s daughter Sherlyn and Mrs. Robiños’ son Romulos.

Lt. Col. Baltazar also said, “Actually, matagal na namin siyang pinoproyekto, kaya lang hindi kami ang nakakuha. Kung nakakakuha kami, inilalabas namin.” (We have long been planning to get him but we were not the ones who were able to get him.   Whenever we get people, we bring them out.)

With this statement, Lorena said “the fact Lt. Col. Baltazar admitted that my father has long been in ISAFP’s target is as close as admitting that no one else but the government is in pursuit of my father. Admitting this yet denying any knowledge of my father’s abduction is just too hard to believe.” 

Lorena also said “The fish gets caught in the mouth.  Even if they claimed to not have my father in custody, they definitely know who is hiding him and where he is being kept.” 

She reiterated her appeal to the military and the Arroyo government to surface her father and give him his day in court.  “No one, not even combatants, shall be deprived of his liberty without due process of the law. Surface my father, Leo Velasco and all the other desaparecidos!”