NPA to release 6 gov’t troops in Mindanao soon
DAVAO CITY – Communist rebels in Mindanao said on Thursday they have been finalizing the release of six government men – whom they had separately seized as prisoners of war – even as
fighting was occurring on the ground.
Joaquin Jacinto, the spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao, identified four of those to be released as PO2 Jerome Anthony Natividad, who was taken captive in Talakag, Bukidnon on February 9; Private First Class Edwin Salan, who was taken captive in Alegria, Surigao del Norte on Jan. 29; and Sergeant Solaiman Calucop and Private First Class Samuel Garay – both taken as POWs in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on February 2.
Jacinto said two other captives would be released by the New People’s Army (NPA) unit that got them in custody. While he did not name the two other captives to be freed, the NPA had also abducted on February 14 militiamen Rene Doller and Carl Mark Nucos in Lupon, Davao Oriental.
“The respective regions will soon announce the details of the release of these aforementioned prisoners of war,” Jacinto said.
He said the releases had been decided upon “as a gesture of support towards the resumption of formal talks between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines.” The NDFP is the political and negotiating arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
The military has not issued a statement on the NDF Mindanao’s announcement yet, but earlier, it said the operations would continue to rescue the captives from the rebels.
In an earlier statement, Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over the areas where most of the abduction of soldiers had taken place, said President Duterte has ordered the military to continue the offensives against the rebels simultaneous with efforts to rescue those who had been kidnapped.
Valencia also said if the NPA was serious about talking peace, it should lay down its arms and stop its attacks on government troops and other targets.
Jacinto said the termination by the NPA of the unilateral ceasefire was “necessary” because the military has not ceased its operations anyway, and also because of the government’s failure to release the political prisoners currently in jail.
“Continued fighting in the field will remain standard in a protracted civil war, especially when the roots of such a conflict remain unresolved. Under this condition, however, a continuing peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP becomes imperative, which, needless to say, opens doors to find possible genuine solutions to the basic social problems suffered by the people and pave the way to attain just and lasting peace,” he said. SFM/rga
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