Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two captives free at last in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 21, 2010) - A Philippine soldier held by communist rebels and a son of a top election official kidnapped by gunmen were freed separately by their captors in Mindanao, police and military said on Wednesday.

It said New People’s Army rebels on Tuesday released Sergeant Bienvenido Arguelles, who was captured on June 19 in Monkayo town in Compostela Valley province. The rebels earlier freed a government militia Juve Latiban, who was seized together with Arguelles at a checkpoint in the village of Upper Ulip.

The rebels said they freed the prisoner due to humanitarian considerations.

“The decision to release prisoner of war Arguelles is based on humanitarian considerations. It is in compliance with the revolutionary movement’s long-standing policy of lenient treatment of POWs and its serious adherence to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol 2 of 1977. By releasing him and other POWs on this ground, the revolutionary movement is giving chance for human rights and the international humanitarian law to be respected at all times,” said Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman.

He said the arrest of Arguelles should serve as a warning to all members of the military and the police who commit incursions into guerilla bases especially those who conduct intelligence operations against the NPA and its supporters.

“It should also serve as warning to those who serve as protectors of large-scale, environmentally destructive and exploitative foreign and local firms under the pretext of Investment Defense Force and peace and development projects, especially that the Diwalwal mining area in Monkayo town is up for total sell-out,” Sanchez said, referring to the large-scale mining activities in Mount Diwalwal in Monkayo town.

Police said kidnappers also released unharmed Nuraldin Yusoph, 22, on Monday in Misamis Oriental province after a month in captivity.

Yusoph, son of Commissioner Elias Yusoph, was seized on June 20 outside a mosque in Marawi City. His abductors originally demanded that the Commission on Elections annul the results of the recent polls in at least four towns - Malabang, Taraka, Pikong and Masiu - in Lanao del Sur in exchange for the safe release of the hostage, but later asked P25 million for his freedom.
Police said no ransom was paid for Yusoph’s release.

Last week, security forces killed the leader of Yusoph’s kidnappers, Dimaporo Dimasacal alias Commander Delta. Officials said soldiers were pursuing the gang when they caught up with them in the village of Aleem Rayah Karamian in Lanao del Sur’s Masiu town and killed its leader.

Dimasacal was also tagged as behind the ambush last week of a group of soldiers in Gata village in Poona Bayabao town, also in Lanao del Sur, killing an infantryman and a civilian. (With a report from Becky de Asis and Geo Solmerano)

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