NPA presents proof of life of 2 abducted soldiers
KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato—The communist New Peoples’ Army (NPA) operating in southern Mindanao on Wednesday released proof of life of two soldiers who were seized in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.
The NPA’s Valentin Palamine Regional Operations Command-Far South Mindanao, in a statement signed by its spokesperson, “Ka Dencio Madrigal,” assured the military and the soldiers’ families they are being treated well in the hinterlands of Mindanao.
The proof of life came in two separate audio-videos with Pfc. Samuel Garay speaking for a minute and a half, and Sgt. Solaiman Calocop who spoke for 1:21. Both were considered “prisoners of war (POWs)” by the NPA’s Mt. Alip Sub-regional operations command.
In the video, Calocop and Garay, both of 39th Infantry Battalion, assured their families that they were being treated well by their NPA custodial unit
Madrigal said the NPA has been giving the captives lenient treatment but calls for an end to military operations in Sultan Kudarat in the guise of pursuing peace through peace and development outreach program, making peasants and indigenous peoples communities as military garrison.
Calocop appealed to his battalion commander to cease its military operations in Sultan Kudarat.
“I appeal to our President (Rodrigo) Duterte to help us be reunited with our families,” Garay said. “To my family don’t worry we are treated well,” he added in the Cebuano.
Garay and Calocop were on board a motorbike heading to a detachment in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat when abducted by NPA rebels on February 1, hours after the communist movement declared it was cancelling its unilateral ceasefire with the government 10 days after.
On the day the proof of life was issued by the NPA, Jessa Mae Garay and Normalia Calocop, the soldiers’ spouses, separately appealed for their immediate and unconditional release.
“Please let me talk to my husband even for a minute to prove he is still alive,” Normalia, a Maguindanaon, appealed to her husband’s captors in a radio interview.
Calocop, also said in the video that his captors respect his religion by allowing him to pray five times a day.
Three-month pregnant Jessa Mae has appealed to her husband’s captors to free him so he can be with their baby soon.