Tuesday, June 15, 2010

NPA rebels free 4 POWs in South RP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 15, 2010) – The New People’s Army rebels have freed Tuesday three soldiers and a government militia after almost a month in captivity, a spokesman for the Maoist group said.

The four - Army Corporals Marcial Bawagan, Ariel Asumo, Eduardo Alcala and Victor Pitogo - were taken prisoners in the town of Mawab in Compostela Valley on May 12.

Anvil Guinto, a spokesman for the rebel’s Crucifino Uballas command, said 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.

“The release is in recognition of the appeals made by the families, religious groups and personalities, well-meaning individuals and progressive groups on their behalf,” he said. ”The NPA accords the released POWs the chance to conduct themselves in a manner respectful of the people's rights and the international laws of war. Their arrest and subsequent detention should also serve as a warning to officers and elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and their intelligence and paramilitary units.”

The Army’s 10th Infantry Division where the soldiers belonged confirmed the release of the four men in the village of Santa Teresa in Compostela Valley’s Maco town.

“Their (rebels) claim of humanitarian consideration in releasing the victims is far-fetched from the truth as they were the ones who put their victims in deep peril disregarding the circumstances when they feloniously and maliciously kidnapped the victims while attending a child’s birthday party,” said Army Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division.

“The victims’ release proves the undeniable culpability of the NPA and its puppet master the Communist Party of the Philippines in concocting crimes against innocent people. It also outlines the NPA’s sheer violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and pertinent laws of the land,” Garcia said.

He said the freed soldiers were taken to hospital for routine examination and would undergo debriefing later.

Last week, the rebels warned troops to stay away from near their bases as not to endanger the lives of the prisoners after the military launched massive operations to rescue the hostages.

The rebels are fighting the past four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (With a report from Geo Solmerano)

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