By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said military operations packaged as “rescue” and “peace and development” operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines hinder the release of four captives of the New People’s Army (NPA).
In a statement, the NDFP-Southern Mindanao Region said the 6th and 4th Infantry Divisions – Eastern Mindanao Command of the AFP have continuously conducted military operations despite calls for a temporary cessation of military operations so as not to jeopardize the security of the prisoners of war (POW). In fact, the NDFP said, the Eastmincom-AFP even intensified its operations in the hinterlands of North Cotabato, Bukidnon and Davao City.
The four BJMP personnel, Jail Inspector Murphy Bomoway Todyog, Jail Warden Erico Dacillo Llamasares, Special Jail Officer 2 (SJ02) Rogelio Begontes and Jail Officer 1 (JOI) Rolando Delta Bajoyo, Jr, were intercepted and taken as prisoners of war by the NPA in Kitaotao, Bukidnon last July 21 while transporting political detainee Dennis Rodenas to Davao.
Last week, the NDFP announced its readiness to release the POWs on humanitarian grounds and as confidence-building measure for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP. The NDFP called for the suspension of police and military operations to facilitate the release of the POWs.
“To expedite the implementation of the NDFP release order, the political leadership of the Government of the Philippines (GPH)… must reciprocate by immediately effecting a suspension of all offensive military and police operations in areas being considered by the custodial unit as possible release sites,” Ruby Del Mundo, NDFP-SMR spokesperson, said in a statement emailed to Bulatlat.com.
The NDFP said the suspension of military operations (SOMO) and suspension of police operations (SOPO) are requisites to ensure the safe and orderly process of the release of the POWs to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and members of the independent humanitarian mission composed of GPH national, regional and provincial officials, and church leaders who shall then turn them over to their respective families.
Del Mundo said the SOMO and SOPO must cover the municipalities of Arakan, Antipas, Magpet, Makilala, and Kidapawan City in North Cotabato; the municipalities of Kitaotao, Quezon, Kibawe, Damulog and Dangcagan in Bukidnon; and the districts of Marilog, Baguio and Calinan in Davao CIty.
“The troops of the 27th Special Forces, the 57th Infantry Battalion and the 61st Infantry Battalion –- which are all under the 602nd Brigade-6th Infantry Division-Philippine Army (PA) — and the 8th Infantry Battalion-403rd Brigade-4th Infantry Division must temporarily cease their offensive operations, including their combat support and special operations which wear the mask of ‘peace and development’ operations,” the rebel leader said.??The NDFP said the POWs custodial unit would undertake the release procedures after it has verified the AFP and the Philippine National Police’s compliance on the ground to the SOMO and SOPO.
Release of another POW ordered
?In another statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered the release of another NPA captive, Mayor Henry Dano of Lingig, Surigao del Sur.
Dano was arrested August 6 by the NPA. The NPA said Dano was charged with particular acts of building a private armed group, murder, intelligence-gathering, harassment, grave threats and coercion as criminal acts, violating the rights and status of the civilian population as provided for in the Bill of Rights in the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government, the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, and of international human rights law.
The CPP said it has made “a political decision to suspend the judicial proceedings against the municipal mayor as an affirmative response to his issuance of an apology.”
In an audio clip, Dano apologized for “his acts constituting violations to human rights and to international humanitarian law.”
The CPP said “the revolutionary movement finds the mayor’s expressions of remorse as a self-criticism and a constructive desire to be given an opportunity to make amends for and rectify his?previous acts for which he was arrested and placed under the judicial custody of the People’s Court.”
The CPP also said the release is also being ordered as a “humanitarian consideration to the appeals made by his family and the representations made by well-meaning groups and individuals.”
In a statement, the Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee said the order is a “unilateral exercise of revolutionary political authority by the CPP as the ruling party of the People’s Democratic?Government.”
The CPP said the legal and judicial proceedings against Dano has been suspended by the People’s Court to correspond to the political decision coursed through the pertinent regional organ of the People’s Democratic Government.
The CPP added however that should Dano continue to commit the acts which were the bases for the charges leveled against him or should he commit new crimes or that additional evidence and circumstances warrant or supervene, he may again be subjected to arrest and the legal and judicial proceedings would resume.
The Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the CPP ordered the Merardo Arce Command Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army to carry out the safe and orderly release of Dano. It added that the release procedures shall be subject to the NPA custodial unit’s appraisal of security considerations to ensure the safety of Dano, his family, the custodial unit, and all those participating in the release.??