Sunday, February 13, 2011

Philippine Maoist rebels release pictures, voice clip of captured policeman

Photos released by the New People's Army to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner show Police Officer 3 Jorge Sabatin with his captors at an undisclosed rebel camp in Mindanao. Sabatin surrendered to New People's Army soldiers after rebel forces overran the 1403rd Police Provincial Mobile Group on February 1, 2011 in Pulang Lupa village in the town of, Trento in Agusan del Sur province. The rebels say the post is being used to extort money from civilians and traders.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 13, 2011) – Communist rebels have released Sunday photographs and a voice clip of a policeman captured during a raid at a police post in the southern Philippines.

Roel Agustin III, a spokesman for the Conrado Heredia Command of the New People’s Army, has assured the safety of the police officer, Jorge Sabatin.

The rebels released the photos and voice clip to the regional newspaper the Mindanao Examiner a day after two soldiers were killed in a clash with police forces in the town.

The two groups clashed before dawn Friday in the remote village of Salvacion after soldiers and police commandos mistook each other as rebels.

Sabatin surrendered to the rebels after they raided his post on February 1 in the same town. The rebels said they are holding Sabatin as a prisoner of war.

“Amid the enemy's so-called rescue operations cum combat operations, POW Sabatin’s safety and security are assured inside the territories of the People's Democratic Government and his basic necessities are provided under the guerilla conditions of his captivity,” said Agustin, adding the rebels are upholding the rights of its prisoners of war in conjunction with the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law.

The photos show Sabatin who was wearing a black NPA uniform and reading a newspaper. One photograph shows him playing chess with one of his guards in a forest.

In the voice clip, Sabatin assured his family that he is safe and well, and his rights are fully respected pursuant to his status as prisoner of war. He urged his superiors, including Agusan del Sur Governor Edward Adolph Plaza to stop the military operations for his expeditious investigation and possible release.

"I am okay here. I was not harmed and they are treating me well," a portion of Sabatin's voice clip said.

"To my wife, don't worry and I will be home soon," he said.

Agustin said the policeman would be released to his family after the NPA investigated him for any serious crime against the civilians and the rebel group - armed wing of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

“He (Sabatin) will be released and safely returned to his family following an investigation whether he was engaged in any serious crime against the people and the revolutionary forces. It has always been an inimitable tradition of the NPA to uphold the rights of its POWs, something we can hardly say about the police and the military.”

“If the police and military have any concern at all for POW Sabatin, they should accede to his and his family's request and spare their troops from further humiliation in the field on top of their sagging morale,” Agustin said.

The rebels are fighting for the establishment of a Maoist state in the largely Catholic nation. President Benigno Aquino III has opened peace talks with the rebels in an effort to end decades of bloody fighting in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

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