DAVAO CITY—Communist leaders have declared a four-day ceasefire starting Tuesday in Davao del Norte towns and part of Compostela Valley for the safe release of a soldier and a policeman they have been holding in captivity since last month.
They also asked the military to do the same.
In a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer, Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) in southern Mindanao, said the New People’s Army (NPA) was suspending its offensives in the towns of Kapalong, San Isidro, Asuncion, New Corella, all in Davao del Norte, and in Laak town in Compostela Valley.
The statement said the NDF “investigating body” found the two captives—Pfc. Jezreel Maata Culango of the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion and PO1 Ruel Pasion—to have committed lesser offenses and recommended their safe and orderly release.
But Del Mundo said the NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), would remain in “active defensive posture against the enemy’s attack” despite the ceasefire.
“This does not prevent the revolutionary forces from initiating future arrest against the two should they be found to commit crimes against the people and other human rights abuses,” the statement said.
Culango and Pasion were seized in a roadblock set up by the rebels in Laak town in Compostela Valley on Jan. 17.
Culango, a member of the 60th Infantry Battalion (IB) based in Barangay Sawata in San Isidro, Davao del Norte, was to visit his girlfriend in Laak when he was forced to stop at the roadblock.
Pasion, on the other hand, was aboard another vehicle and on his way to work at the San Isidro police station when he was captured at the same roadblock.
Families of the soldier and policeman also appealed to the government to declare a ceasefire.
“My only appeal to the government is to declare a Somo (suspension of military offensives) so that my husband can go home safely,” said Jennifer Pasion, the policeman’s wife.
Jonathan Culango, the soldier’s father, said he was confident his son would not be harmed or killed.
“As what I have seen in the news in previous incidents where government troops were captured, the NPA has not harmed anyone and has also released all captives. I feel no fear,” Jonathan Culango said.