DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 28, 2010) – Philippine communist rebels on Sunday warned the military of mounting a risky rescue mission to spring a government soldier being held as prisoner in Mindanao.
The New People’s Army, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which is waging a secessionist war, said the rescue operation could only endanger the life of Corporal Daiem Hadjaie, who was captured at a rebel checkpoint in Compostela Valley’s Monkayo town on November 16.
“Experience has shown that none of these so-called rescue missions has ever succeeded in the past and could only endanger the lives of prisoners of war,” said Roel Agustin II, a rebel spokesman.
He said Hadjaie, who belongs to the Philippine Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion, is being investigated by the New People’s Army for possible crimes against civilians and the rebel group.
Agustin said the prisoner’s unit was notorious for human rights violations in Mindanao.
“The unit he is under has been committing serious violations of human rights directed mainly at the peasant populace in the hinterland. This military unit is guilty of falsely accusing and detaining 13 civilians, including two minors, in Monkayo town as NPA members or supporters. They were illegally arrested and put under physical and psychological torture,” he said. He said the same unit has been protecting big foreign and local mining companies accused by ethnic natives and civilians of plundering mineral resources of the gold-rich Mount Diwata range.
“This military unit has subjected civilians to harassment and intimidation. By serving as Investment Defense Force, the 25th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division under the Eastern Mindanao Command has put the lives and livelihood of peasants and small-scale miners in danger. Their crimes against the people and the revolutionary movement have made them targets of the NPA’s tactical offensives,” Agustin said.
He said the prisoner is being treated fairly by rebels and assured his family that Hadjaie, a Muslim, is safe and well.
“The New People’s Army fully respects as well Hadjaie’s religious beliefs. The NPA has provided POW Hadjaie the necessary health, medical care and other basic necessities under the prevailing guerilla conditions of his captivity,” the rebel spokesman said.
The military did not say whether it would continue the rescue operation or not, but it demanded the immediate release of Hadjaie.
“We cannot leave our comrade-in-arms or anyone in the hands of terrorists. They should immediately release Corporal Hadjaei,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Medel Aguilar, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division.
Communist rebels have previously seized government soldiers in Mindanao and released many of them on humanitarian grounds. (Mindanao Examiner)