Sunday, November 30, 2008

NPA releases video clip of Special Forces captive in Mindanao

A video grab of New People's Army prisoner of war First Lieutenant Vicente Cammayo, of the Special Forces. Communist rebels release Sunday, November 30, 2008 a video clip of Cammayo, who was captured November 7, 2008 after a firefight in Compostela Valley province in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 30, 2008) – Communist rebels released Sunday a video clip of a Special Forces commander they are holding as a prisoner of war in Mindanao island, south of the Philippines.

The New People’s Army is holding First Lieutenant Vicente Cammayo since November 7 after rebel forces attacked his unit and killed two soldiers and a government militia in a fierce firefight in Casoon village in the town of Monkayo in Compostela Valley province.

The Army’s Eastern Mindanao Command said Cammayo was shot and wounded during the firefight. The rebels also seized an M60 machine gun and two M16 and one M14 automatic rifles from Cammayo's unit during the fighting.

The undated clip emailed to the Mindanao Examiner showed Cammayo already with mustache and bearded, sitting on a hammock surrounded by shrubs. One guard, armed with an automatic rifle, was standing about seven meters away from Cammayo – he was wearing a black t-shirt with inscription ALC, an acronym for an NPA unit called Alejandro Lanaja Command.

“I am First Lieutenant Vicente Cammayo, Philippine Army, team leader na naka-assign sa 10th Special Forces Company, naka-base sa Laak, ComVal province. I was captured in the performance of my duty during the encounter with the New People’s Army under Alejandro Lanaja Command dated 07 November 2008 at Barangay Casoon, ComVal province,” he said in his opening statement.

Cammayo, wearing a red t-shirt over his camouflage uniform, appeared to be nervous and tensed. “Bilang pamamalagi ko dito sa kamay nila bilang bihag o POW, hindi naman nalapastangan ang aking pagkatao at nirespeto ang aking mga karapatan. Ibinigay sa akin ang mga pangunahing kailangan. Maayos ang kanilang trato sa akin,” he said.

He also told his wife, Marielle Cammayo, and mother, Cecilia Cammayo, not to worry too much about him. Cammayo also asked the two women to pray for his early release from the hands of rebels.

Cammayo also denied military reports that he was shot and wounded during the fighting with rebels.

“Sa akin asawa na si Marielle Cammayo at sa akin nanay na si Cecilia Cammayo, nais kong malaaman ninyo wala akong tama o kaya ay nasugatan doon sa nangyaring enkuwentro at alam ko ngayon na hindi maayos ang inyong pagiisip dahil sa kaiisip sa akin. Nasa maayos akong kalagayan ngayon at sana ay ipagdasal natin na mapaaga ang aking paglaya sa kamay ng NPA,” he said in the last part of the clip.

Aris Francisco, spokesman of the NPA's Alejandro Lanaja Command, accused the 3rd Special Forces Battalion to which Cammayo's unit belongs, as responsible for the series of violations to human rights, protocols of war and international humanitarian law in Compostela Valley province.

He said the Special Forces masterminded the June bombing in Nabunturan town that wounded several innocent civilians. “The bombing was a desperate and fascist attack in response to the sparrow operations of the NPA which killed two of their soldiers at that time,” he said.

The NPA also tagged Special Forces members as behind the brutal murder in June of a peasant leader Noli Llanos in Nabunturan's Mipangi village, where rebels killed three government soldiers; and also the killing of farmer Diego Encarnacion in the village of Linda in Nabunturan town in July. Both farmers were accused by the military as NPA supporters.
The military denied all NPA allegations.

Aside from Cammayo, the NPA is also holding Police Officer 3 Eduardo Tumol, a member of the 1105th Provincial Mobile Group, who was arrested on November 5 by rebels at a checkpoint in the village of Baogo in Davao Oriental’s Caraga town.

Tumol's commander, Chief Inspector Angel Sumagaysay, and another policeman were able to escape from the rebels. Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman, said Cammayo and Tumol are both being investigated for possible human rights violations and other crimes related to the operations of the Special Forces and the Provincial Mobile Group in Mindanao.

The NPA, armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is fighting the government the past four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. Peace talks between Manila and the CPP-NPA collapsed in 2004 after both sides failed to sign an agreement ending hostilities in the countryside. (Mindanao Examiner)

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