New People’s Army rebels released photographs and voice recordings of four jail officers being held in Mindanao.
The four - Police Inspectors Murphy Todyog and Eric Llamasares, Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio Begontes and Jail Officer 1 Rolando Bajuyo Jr. - were seized by rebels on July 21 after a daring rescue of a prisoner Dennis Rodenas in Bukidnon province.
Authorities said Rodenas is a senior rebel leader who is facing a string of criminal charges. He was rescued by dozens of New People’s Army rebels while being transported to a prison facility in Davao.
Rubi del Mundo, a spokesperson for the NPA in Southern Mindanao, said the photographs were taken on August 23. Del Mundo said security forces had launched a series of operations to rescue the prisoners, but it all failed.
“Surely, a people’s army that has more than four decades of experience and accomplishments in the revolutionary war cannot be dismembered with fascist dogs wearing innocuous collars,” Del Mundo said.
The four prisoners also appealed to Manila to stop all military operations because it could endanger their safety. They said the rebels were treating them fairly.
“Our situation here is okay, although it is cold here in the mountains. They treat us humanely, we were not harmed. To my family, don’t worry because I’m alright, despite our situation where we are sometimes wet and cold from the rains. We are still alive,” said Todyog.
“To the negotiating panel of the government’s side, I hope they’ll expedite the negotiation so that we can go back to our families. We’re here for almost a month already. The people here are treating us well. To the operations of the Armed Forces, although that is their job, but we are appealing that you give way to the negotiation so that the process of our release will not be delayed,” he added.
Llamasares said the military rescue operations affected their early release. “I appeal that the military operations be stopped to expedite our release. I believe that the military operations have caused the delay of our release, please give way for our release,” he said.
“As POWs, we are treated well here. We miss our families. Here, they treat us as their visitors. They provide for our needs such as food. They always check our health. We were not harmed, not even verbally or physically. I call on my family not to worry because we’re okay here. We’re in good condition,” said Begontes.
And Bajuyo also appealed to the army to halt all operations. “We appeal to the Philippine Army, please, suspend the military operations to expedite our release. We hope to be reunited with our families,” he said.
The rebels earlier released photographs and voice recordings of Mayor Henry Dano, of Lingig town in Surigao del Sur; and his bodyguards Private First Class Allan Saban and Corporal Alrey Desamparado, who were seized August 6 in a daring raid on the politician’s house.
Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command, said the politician is being tried by a revolutionary court on various criminal charges and could face execution by musketry if rebels find him guilty of all accusations against him.
“The charges point to Mayor Dano’s direct and indirect, overt and covert participation in armed hostilities waged by the AFP, PNP and their intelligence and paramilitary units against the NPA.”
“Foremost of these acts is his maintenance of a private armed group and engaging in intelligence gathering against the revolutionary forces in Guerilla Front 20 in conjunction with the 4th Infantry Division intelligence operations,” Sanchez said, adding the mayor would also be investigated for his role in army recruitment in his town.
Dano has appealed to President Benigno Aquino to halt all military operation in theprovince to allow negotiations for the release.
“I am asking for our beloved President, on my capacity as mayor of the town of Lingig and currently a detainee of the NPA, for the suspension of military operations to ensure our security and to facilitate for our early release from detention here, free from peril. I would also like to ask our beloved Governor, Johnny Pimentel, to send my request to our beloved President Benigno Aquino III, to suspend the military operations to accord us safety, and to hasten our freedom,” the mayor said.
The rebels are fighting for the establishment of a separate state in the largely Catholic country. (Mindanao Examiner)