Rebel infiltration of military part of probe on NPA raid
SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur — Investigators are looking into the possibility that the military has been infiltrated by communist rebels which led to the capture of two soldiers and 12 militiamen during a bloodless raid by rebels on an Army detachment in this province.
Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, head of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID), told a local radio station that he was not ruling out the possibility that the military had been infiltrated by rebels as shown by the ease with which rebels raided the detachment.
Villanueva said the 14 captives were also being investigated for negligence for failure to put up a fight against rebels.
The two soldiers and 12 militiamen were captured by rebels, who didn’t fire a single shot, during a raid on an Army detachment in the village of Tubigon, Sibagat town. The two soldiers had been identified as Cpl. Eric Manangan and Pfc. Darlino Carino Jr.
President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered policemen and soldiers to shoot themselves dead than be captured alive by communist rebels or terrorists.
Communist rebel leaders said the captives would be released as soon as the military ceases offensives against the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Villanueva, however, rejected talks with the rebels for the release of the troopers.
“We will not negotiate with the NPA,” he said in a statement from Camp Evangelista, headquarters of the 4th ID in Cagayan de Oro City.
“Attached to their act of kidnapping is the responsibility for their hostages’ lives,” Villanueva said.
He expressed rage at the failure of the captives to put up a fight.
Villanueva said the captured troopers would be “meted with the maximum punishment under the military justice system” if proven negligent of their duty to fight rebels.
“If provisions of the Articles of War warrant, I will shoot them myself,” he said.
“Incidents such as this happen because of soldiers who deliberately disregard existing standard procedures and orders,” Villanueva said.
CPP, in a statement, said rebels would free what they called prisoners of war (POWs) if the military would order a ceasefire.
“All prisoners of war who were captured after surrendering during the raid in Agusan del Sur are being treated leniently,” according to the CPP statement sent by e-mail to Inquirer.
“They will be released soonest so long as the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) relents in its offensive in order to pave the way for their orderly and safe release, and give them the opportunity to be with their families this Christmas,” the rebels said.
The statement also urged third party facilitators to coordinate and cooperate with the local NPA command for the release of the prisoners.
CPP also said the raid did not violate the rebels’ truce declaration, which would still take effect at midnight of Dec. 24 to 26 and on Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 next year. —Reports from Chris Panganiban, Jigger Jerusalem and Mart Sambalud
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