Monday, October 29, 2007

Rebels Free Captured Soldier In South RP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 29, 2007) – Communist rebels on Monday freed an army soldier after more than three weeks in captivity in the southern Philippines.

Aris Francisco, spokesman for the New People’s Army (NPA) Alejandro Command in Southern Mindanao, said rebels freed Sgt. Raul Reyes at around 12 p.m. in the remote village of Casoon in Monkayo town in Compostela Valley province.

“The decision to release POW Sgt. Raul Reyes is based on humanitarian grounds particularly the request of his family. Also the investigating body of the NPA found no grave crimes that are individually attributable to the said prisoner of war,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Reyes was seized with two other militiamen Glorieto Mahumas and Ruddy Villaflor, also a village chieftain, in October 7 after NPA forces raided a government post in the village of Canidkid in Montevista town. The rebels carted 16 assorted automatic weapons.

The two militias had earlier escaped from rebels.

Francisco previously said the three would be tried for crimes committed against civilians. He said the two militias were active in local paramilitary recruitment and had been instrumental in putting up military detachments in the Montevista villages.

“The Philippine military units deployed in the area - the 72nd and the 60th Infantry Battalions had been notorious in committing grave human rights abuses and violations,” Francisco said.

He said Reyes was released to representatives of Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy and Rep. Manuel Zamora.

The rebels earlier sought a suspension of all military offensives in the province in exchange for the release of the hostages, but this was flatly rejected by the government.

“The refusal of the Eastern Mindanao Command-Armed Forces of the Philippines to implement a suspension of military operations is a clear manifestation of its negligent treatment towards their own rank-and-file personnel, paramilitary elements and non-commissioned officers captured as POWs and to the demands of their families. Had the SOMO been implemented, the POW would have been released earlier,” Francisco said.

There were no immediate statements from the military.

The rebels are fighting the democratic Filipino government for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Juan Magtanggol)

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