Thursday, June 10, 2010

NPA orders release of captured soldiers, militia in Southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 10, 2010) – The New People’s Army ordered rebel forces on Thursday to free three government soldiers and a militiaman captured in the southern Philippines.

Communist 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 release of the prisoners came after their families appealed to the NPA to free the four men who are being accused of violating human rights of civilians in the province.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command, said there is a probable cause to hold the prisoners longer, but the rebel group has considered the appeals made their families for the safe release of the soldiers and militiaman.

“However, in consideration of the humanitarian appeals for their release, the MAC-NPA has ordered the NPA custodial unit to release Prisoners of War Corporal Marcial B. Bawagan (SN#794130), Corporal Ariel P. Asumo (SN#803445), Corporal Eduardo Alcala (SN#806489) and Civilian Active Auxiliary (member) Victor Pitogo (SN#006279) subject to the actual military situation on the ground,” Sanchez said.

Government troops mounted fresh operations to rescue the hostages, but it was unknown whether the military would order a halt in the efforts to recover the four men.

The NPA earlier warned troops to stay away from near their stronghold as not to endanger the lives of the prisoners.

“This utmost concern is currently being considered by the NPA so as to ensure the safe and orderly undertaking of the release. Major General Carlos Holganza must come to his senses, and face the fact that 10th Infantry Division operations have failed and order a suspension of military operations in the areas of Pantukan, Mabini, Maco and Mawab,” Sanchez said, referring to the towns where military operations are going on.

He said: “As it is now, only the 10th Infantry Division's continuing, but failed military operation, stands in the way of the fulfillment of the NPA's humanitarian act that will effect the return of the prisoners of war to their families.”

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

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