Monday, February 21, 2011
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 21, 2011) – Communist rebels have released Monday a Filipino policeman and an army soldier they captured in Mindanao after more than two weeks in captivity, a spokesman for the New People’s Army said.
Rafael de la Cruz, of the NPA’s Wilfredo Zapanta Command, said police officer Jerwel Tugade was freed as a sign of support to the ongoing peace talks between the rebels and Aquino government.
“His release was an act of good faith in support to the current peace talks and to inspire reciprocal measures from the Government of the Philippines,” he said.
Tugade, a member of the 1106th Provincial Mobile Group of the Philippine National Police, was arrested February 7 at a rebel checkpoint at a highway the town of Banaybanay in Davao Oriental province.
“In the course of his 15-day captivity, he was treated humanely; his rights as prisoner of war were fully respected in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Conventions,” the rebel spokesman said.
He said they released the prisoner despite ongoing military and police operations in Mindanao which violated a weeklong truce that both sides declared on February 15 to allow peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines, and the Aquino government.
The rebels accused the Army’s 10th Infantry Division of sabotaging the peace talks by its continued operations in areas where the communist secessionist group is strong.
“The 10th Infantry Division only shows its utter contempt to the peace talks as it tries to sabotage the mutual ceasefire in its desperate bid to gain an upper hand against the people's army. The safe and orderly release of NPA prisoner of war Tugade today and the series of accumulated defeats that the Armed Forces of the Philippines sustained from the NPA have only proven that the bankrupt reactionary army and the rotten regime have been failing miserably in its anti-people and counter-revolutionary war,” Dela Cruz said.
Another rebel unit said it also freed Private First Class El Bryan Cañedo, a member of the 5th Scout Ranger Company under the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion.
Homer Sandejas, a spokesman for the NPA’s Front 25 Operations Command, said the release of the soldier was also gesture of goodwill gesture in support to the peace talks.
“Prisoner of war Cañedo's reunion with his family would have come much earlier were it not for the 10th Infantry Division’s fascist arrogance in pursuing their futile offensive combat and so-called rescue missions - even amid appeals of the religious sector to stop military operations for his expeditious and safe release and the Armed Forces of the Philippines declaration of suspension of offensive military operations during the week-long formal peace talks resumption,” Sandejas said.
The rebels also freed last week a policeman Jorge Sabatin and a former army Mario Veluz after weeks in captivity in Mindanao. The NPA is fighting for decades for the establishment of a communist state in the predominantly Catholic nation. (Mindanao Examiner)