NDF scraps release of 3 captive cops as Army rejects troop pullout, ceasefire
Jorge Madlos, alias Ka Oris, spokesperson of the NDF-Mindanao, said the release, which was scheduled today, Thursday, would no longer push through because the military has adopted a hard-line stance on their demands.
“We are saddened to announce the indefinite suspension of the release of POWs. The NPA would never compromise the safety of the custodial force and of the three policemen,” Madlos said.
Heavy military presence and ongoing rescue attempts at a village in Gigacuit town in Surigao del Norte, where the release was supposed to take place, forced them to cancel the release, Madlos said
“The military failed to perform its responsibility. It’s for the public to judge who’s at fault and to blame for this,” Madlos added.
The NDF leadership already signed last month an order granting the immediate release from its custody of PO1 Jonry Amper, PO3 Democrito Polvorosa and PO1 Marichel Contemplo “without other pre-conditions except for troop pullout and implementation of ceasefire,” Madlos said.
The three were separately snatched by communist rebels on November 2 and 16 in 2014 in Malimo and Alegria towns.
Brig. Gen. Jonathan Ponce, commander of the Philippine Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade, said the Army would never accede to the rebel demands, describing it as “totally unacceptable.”
“The Army is just following orders from higher headquarters. We have to obey it. Anyway, the NPA can leave their kidnapped victims behind,” he said.
The impasse, however, did not sit well with third-party negotiators, who worked double time for the early and safe release of the policemen.
“It’s frustrating because the release was within our reach already but hardliners in the Army prevailed,” said Bishop Rhee Timbang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and among the third-party negotiators.
Timbang said the negotiating team has been trying revive the talks with the NDF and civilian government authorities.
He also lamented the apparent apathy and lack of action taken by top Caraga officials to pressure the military and asked their counterparts to temporarily concede for the sake of their “lowly” members.
“I’m afraid the apathy to and the abandonment of the PNP (Philippine National Police) Caraga leadership of its lowly members caused demoralization in its ranks. They must do their share in pressuring the military,” he said.
Sought for comment, the Caraga police spokesperson, Senior Supt. Romaldo Bayting, said the police have decided to let the provincial crisis management committee spearheaded by Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas handle the key decisions.
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