DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / November 6, 2009) - Communist insurgents on Friday warned the Philippine military of jeopardizing the safety of a government soldier being held as a prisoner of war in Mindanao, where security forces are fighting the local Maoist rebel group.
The New People’s Army, the country’s oldest rebel group which is fighting for the establishment of a separate communist state, has captured Corporal Dominador Alegre early this week after a raid at a military post in Monkayo town in Compostela Valley province.
Alegre is a detachment commander of the 72nd Infantry Battalion deployed in the province to fight the rebels.
A rebel spokesman, Simon Santiago, said security forces have mounted fresh operation to rescue Alegre, who is facing an investigation by an NPA court for possible human rights violations.
He said the rescue operation could endanger the soldier’s life.
“The 10th Infantry Division is actively opposing and closing the door to the possibility of an early, safe and orderly release of the prisoner of war and instead insist on endangering the security of Corporal Alegre by launching military operations,” Santiago said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.
He said soldiers have also arrested innocent civilians and harassed villagers in Monkayo town as they searched for the captured soldier.
”This is clearly an act of fascist arrogance of the 10th Infantry Division as the revolutionary forces has consistently shown in the many past and recent prisoner of war cases that it has positively considered well-meaning appeals for the release of the prisoners of war. Thus, the 10th Infantry Division condescending and irrational attitude towards their very own personnel captured and declared as prisoner of war by the New People’s Army, and their families, is a stumbling block to the possibility for an early, safe and orderly release of the prisoner of war,” Santiago said.
Another rebel spokesman, Ka Nadem, earlier warned the military against rescuing the soldier.
“We assure his family that he is well and is being taken cared of under the prevailing guerrilla conditions of the people’s army and the people’s war. While the investigation for Corporal Alegre's possible commission of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law is proceeding, we call on the 10th Infantry Division not to put in jeopardy the POW's safety and well-being. Any military operation will only succeed in delaying the investigation process and exacerbate the conditions of his custodial detention,” Nadem said.
Rebels have previously released captured soldiers and policemen in Mindanao after their families appealed for their freedom.
In April, communist rebels also abducted Private First Class Ronnie Trinidad, who belongs to the 66th Infantry Battalion, in the village of Pagsabangan in Compostela Valley’s New Bataan town. NPA rebels freed early this year a captured Special Forces commander, First Lieutenant Vicente Cammayo, after holding him as prisoner of war for two months also in Compostela Valley.
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 is the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, which broke off peace talks with Manila in 2004 after both sides failed to sign an agreement to end more than four decades of bloody fighting. (Mindanao Examiner)