Thursday, February 17, 2011

Maoist rebels hold army soldier in Mindanao

Communist New People's Army rebels have released Thursday, February 17, 2011 photos and audio clip of Army Private First Class El Bryan Cañedo who is being held as prisoner of war in Mindanao. (Text: Mindanao Examiner)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 17, 2011) – Communist insurgents on Thursday said they are holding a government soldier captive in Mindanao and warned Manila that any attempt to rescue the prisoner could endanger his life.

Homer Sandejas, a spokesman for the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao, said rebel forces are holding Army Private First Class El Bryan Cañedo in Compostela Valley province.

He said the 23-year old soldier was arrested at a rebel checkpoint in the village of Marapat in Compostela town. A pistol was seized from the infantryman.

“Prisoner of War Cañedo is a member of the 5th Scout Ranger Company under the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion and facing investigation for possible crimes committed against the masses and the revolutionary movement,” Sandejas said.

The rebel group also released to the Mindanao Examiner two photographs of the soldier, including an audio clip.

In the audio clip, Cañedo said he is being treated well by the rebels. He said his rights as prisoner of war are fully respected by the New People's Army.

He urged the military and police to stop all rescue operations to speed up his release and asked the leadership of the Iglesia ni Cristo and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to help him regain his freedom.

The New People’s Army is also holding another police officer, Jorge Sabatin, as prisoner of war after insurgents overran a police post in Agusan del Sur province early this month.

Sandejas said government troops have launched combat operations in Compostela Valley and the provinces of Agusan and Davao Oriental despite a truce between the rebels and military.

“This could only delay the expeditious investigation of POW Cañedo by revolutionary authorities,” the rebel spokesman said.

Sandejas said the soldier is safe and his rights as a prisoner of war are fully respected. “His welfare, safety and security are ensured inside the guerilla territories of the People's Democratic Government,” he said.

The rebels have declared a weeklong truce starting on February 15 to allow peace talks with the Aquino government in Norway which is brokering the negotiations.

Peace talks collapsed in 2004 after rebels accused then President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements and among them was the release of all political detainees.

The truce came after the Aquino government declared a cease-fire with the New People’s Army, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which is fighting for decades for the establishment of a separate Maoist state in the largely Catholic country.

The 40-year old communist insurgency in the Philippines is the longest in the world. (Mindanao Examiner)

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