Peace Advocates Welcome Video of NPA’s Prisoner of War

An interfaith group deemed as a positive step the release of a video footage of a prisoner of war (POW) held by the New People’s Army (NPA).

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The Interfaith Movement for Peace and the Release of Cammayo and Tumol (IMPACT) welcomed the recently released video footage of 1Lt. Vicente Cammayo who is held captive by New People’s Army (NPA) as its prisoner of war (POW).

Cammayo, team leader of the 10th Special Forces Company of the Philippine Army, was captured by the NPA command in Compostela Valley last November 7.

The IMPACT is an alliance composed of religious groups, lawyers, academe and local government officials.

Iglesia Filipino Independiente (IFI) Bishop Delfin Callao, one of the IMPACT convenors, said the act was a positive first step in establishing the safety of Cammayo, countering earlier pronouncements by the military stating otherwise.

He added that the Arroyo government should expedite Cammayo’s safe release by resuming peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and by ordering the military to cease its rescue operations in the region in order to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiations for the release of Cammayo and another POW.

Police Officer 3 Eduardo Cruzada Tumol of 1105th Provincial Mobile Group has also been held by the NPA.

Callao also considered as unfortunate and imprudent the pronouncement of Lt. Col. Joselito Bautista, spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division. Bautista recently said that the Army will not negotiate for the release of Cammayo and that massive military operations in the area would continue.

“We call on the government not to complicate things with its hard-line stance of no-negotiations and no troop withdrawal. Their military operations to rescue the POWs would not only put the lives of the POWs in danger but also continue to wreak havoc among the civilian communities in the countryside,” Callao said.

The IFI bishop said further, “As much as we are glad to receive the recent update regarding the POWs’ situation, we are very saddened over recent reports of aerial bombardments against civilian communities in Compostela Valley and the human rights violations against indigenous peoples and peasants in the areas affected by the military operations. We are urging the Arroyo government to address this concern and institute measures such as the immediate cessation of military rescue operations.”

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