Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Communist rebels release captured police officer in southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 24, 2008) – Philippine communist rebels freed Wednesday a policeman they captured in Mindanao, but are still holding an army officer prisoner in the troubled region.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the New People's Army rebels, said Eduardo Tumol was released as an act of goodwill.

“New People's Army Prisoner of War PO3 Eduardo C. Tumol, Badge No. 078679, was released today as an act of goodwill as the whole revolutionary movement celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines,” he said.

He said Tumol was accorded humane and lenient treatment befitting his status as prisoner of war in accordance with international war protocols, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the NPA's Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention.

Sanchez did not give details of Tumol’s release. Tumol, a member of the 1105th Provincial Mobile Group, was arrested on November 5 by the NPA at a checkpoint in the village of Baogo in Davao Oriental's Caraga town. His commander, Chief Inspector Angel Sumagaysay, and another policeman were able to escape from the rebels.

The NPA is still 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 rebels also seized an M60 machine gun and two M16 and one M14 automatic rifles from Cammayo's unit during the fighting.

It was unknown when Cammayo would be freed, but Sanchez previously said that both prisoners were 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.

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 accused the Special Forces of masterminding 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 accusations and branded them as propaganda.

The NPA, armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, 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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