DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 23, 2008) – Philippine communist rebels said they would free a policeman 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 they would soon release Eduardo Tumol as an act of goodwill. He did not say when the actual release would be, but claimed Tumol’s freedom was based on humanitarian grounds and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Dec. 26.
“The Merardo Arce Command-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command of the New People's Army has ordered the unilateral release of NPA prisoner of war PO3 Eduardo C. Tumol (Badge No. 078679).”
”POW Tumol's release is an act of goodwill in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines. It is also based on humanitarian grounds as well-meaning individuals, personalities and peace advocates clamor for a negotiated and unilateral release,” Sanchez said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.
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.
”The soonest time, the Merardo Arce Command-NPA shall make further announcements related to the actual release of POW Tumol,” Sanchez said.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)