DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 24, 2011) – A Filipino Bishop belonging to the clergy-led Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP) appealed to the Philippine military to free 3 New People’s Army rebels who were wounded in a clash with security forces in Mindanao.
The EJP said releasing three on humanitarian grounds will aid in the pursuance of peace talks between rebels and government.
The group was referring to Vanessa delos Reyes, Ariel Haducana, and Jason Casilum whom the military is keeping in hospital arrest after being critically wounded in the fighting on May 29 in Davao Oriental province.
It said the Army’s 10th Infantry Division has rendered the trio as its de facto prisoners of war.
“Our call is ever more important, now that we are tracking peace talks,” Bishop Modesto Villasanta said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner. “The release of the three will definitely aid in confidence building for both the government and the NDF in pursuing peace talks.”
“Instead of using peace rhetoric for military operations and insisting that the NPA is a local terrorist, the military must heed the call to support peace negotiations by observing and respecting signed agreements between the government and the National Democratic Front,” Villasanta added.
Among the agreements include the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and other international conventions such as the Geneva Conventions that provide rules on war.