Saturday, June 05, 2010

Military rescue operation imperils lives of 3 soldiers, militia captured by rebels in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 5, 2010) – Philippine Maoist rebels on Saturday warned security forces to stay away from near their stronghold or risk the lives of three captured government soldiers and militia being held as prisoners in the southern province of Compostela Valley.

The rebels are holding Army Corporals Marcial Bawagan, Ariel Asumo, Eduardo Alcala and Victor Pitogo, a government militia. They were taken prisoners in the town of Mawab in Compostela Valley on May 12 and being investigated on charges of human rights violations and counter-revolutionary campaign in the province.

The families of the prisoners have made several appeals to the rebels who are members of the New People’s Army to free the four men on humanitarian grounds.

But the rebels claimed ongoing military offensives are putting the lives of the prisoners at great risk and demanded troops to pull out in Compostela Valley.

“The New People's Army and the revolutionary forces fully recognize the appeals made by the families and other well-meaning groups and individuals for the release of the four arrested AFP men on humanitarian grounds. The New people’s Army, however, believes that the appeals are better addressed to the Command of the 10th Infantry Division which currently stands as the biggest stumbling block to any possibility of an early release because of its policy of all-out offensive military operations disguised as rescue operations,” said Anvil Guinto, a rebel spokesman for the Crusifino Uballas Command, the group that is holding the four hostages.

Guinto said the prisoners are being treated well by the rebels and their rights fully respected under the protocols of war. “They have slowly adopted to the guerilla conditions of their captivity. As the designated custodial unit, the Crucifino Uballas Command is doing everything within its control to ensure the safety of the prisoners. But the whole security aspect of the situation can only be completely addressed by a cessation of the offensive military operations within the guerilla territories of the Crucifino Uballas Command,” he said.

He said the offensive military operations will only prolong the detention of the four prisoners and can worsen their situation. The military operation, he said, could also result to grave human rights abuses against civilians in the province.

Troops on Friday killed a New People’s Army soldier in a firefight in nearby town of Lupon in Davao Oriental province after security forces caught up with a band of rebels blamed for the string of attacks on government projects in the area.

Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division, said troops also recovered at least 20 blasting caps, two firing devices for improvised explosives, electronics and communications equipment, two hand grenades, three rifle grenades, assorted ammunition and subversive documents.

The rebels are fighting the past four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

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