DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 30, 2008) – Philippine communist rebels on Wednesday said they are holding two government soldiers captured during a raid on a southern town.
Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman, said the two soldiers Napoleon Gerasmio and Huberto Corbita are both sergeants in the Philippine Army. They were captured at a rebel checkpoint on April 24 in the mountain village of Upper Ulip in Compostela Valley’s Monkayo town.
He said the captives are being investigated by a rebel court of any human rights abuses and crimes against civilians.
“The two prisoners of war are undergoing investigation to find out any culpability for serious violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and other war crimes that they may have committed in the conduct of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ past and present counter-revolutionary war and anti-people campaigns of repression,” Sanches said.
Maj. Raymundo Aguada, spokesman for the Army's 10th Infantry Division, said government soldiers have mounted a massive operation since last week to free the duo.
The rebels warned the military that any attempt to rescue the two soldiers will put their lives at risk. “Attempts by the AFP to rescue the prisoners will only heighten the worry for the POWs' families as it will put their security in jeopardy,” Sanches warned.
Last year, the New People’s Army rebels also seized an army soldier Sgt. Raul Reyes in Compostela Valley and freed him three weeks later on humanitarian grounds after his family appealed to rebels to spare his life.
Reyes was seized with two other militiamen Glorieto Mahumas and Rudy Villaflor, also a village chieftain, in October 7 after NPA forces raided a government post in the village of Canidkid in Montevista town. Mahumas and Villaflor later escaped from their captors.
The NPA said it seized the soldier after villagers complained that military units deployed in the town had been notorious in committing human rights abuses and violations. The rebels previously said the three would be tried for crimes committed against civilians. They had in the past kidnapped military and police officers, but also freed them to the International Committee of the Red Cross after negotiations.
The rebels, armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, are fighting the Filipino government for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)