Sunday, May 10, 2009

Philippine Army accused NPA rebels of violating rights of captured soldier

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 10, 2009) – Communist rebels continue to hold a government soldier the Philippine Army claimed was abducted in Mindanao.

It said New People’s Army (NPA) rebels abducted Private First Class Ronnie Trinidad, who belongs to the 66th Infantry Battalion, last month in the village of Pagsabangan in Compostela Valley’s New Bataan town.

The army accused the rebels of violating Trinidad’s human rights by holding him against his will.

“This is a clear violation of law. The longer that they will hold our soldier, the more pain that they will inflict to him and his family as they continuously hold him against his will,” said Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, the commander of the army division.

Mapagu said Trinidad’s family fears for his life and agonizes over his continuing captivity. He also quoted the solder’s mother, Juliet Trinidad, as saying: “He is our only hope in life. He is a good soldier whose only dream is to serve other people.”

Rebels seized Trinidad on April 28 while on his way to barracks with another soldier, Corporal Japhet Lavid, who was able to escape.

In January, NPA rebels freed a captured Special Forces commander, First Lieutenant Vicente Cammayo after holding him as prisoner of war for two months in Compostela Valley.

Cammayo was captured 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.

Last year, the rebels also released a policeman Eduardo Tumol, who was seized November 5 at a checkpoint in the village of Baogo in Davao Oriental's Caraga town.

The NPA said that both Tumol and Cammayo were investigated for possible human rights violations and other crimes related to the operations of the Special Forces and the Provincial Police Mobile Group in Mindanao.

The rebels said Trinidad also faces the same investigation. The NPA assured the soldier’s family that they will respect his rights as a prisoner of war.

“They claim to be vanguards of justice and people’s rights, but they have a record of violating the rights of the people with impunity. In the absence of due process, how can they say that justice is best served in the eyes of our people who recognize only the legitimate court of law?” Mapagu asked.

The NPA, armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting the government 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 to end more than four decades of bloody fighting. (Mindanao Examiner)

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