NPA orders release of 2 soldiers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 May) – The New People’s Army has ordered the release of two intelligence officers of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion who were arrested in President Roxas town in North Cotabato on April 14.

Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, said  Corporal Delfin Largo Sarocam and Private 1st Class Jayson Burgos Valenzuela have been ordered released “based on humanitarian grounds in consideration to the appeals made by their families for their release.”

Both were arrested on April 14 in President Roxas town in North Cotabato, and had been facing investigations “for possible violations to human rights and international humanitarian law in the course of their participation in the counterrevolutionary war of the Philippine government,” Sanchez’ statement said.

The statement was silent on the results of the investigation.

Sanchez said the Herminio Alfonso Command-Guerilla Front 53 Operations Command of the New People’s Army (NPA), which has custody of Sarocam and Valenzuela, has been directed to “undertake safe and orderly release procedures. The date and place of the release shall be subject to their determination.”

In an April 18 statement e-mailed to media on April 24, Front 53 spokesperson  Isabel Santiago,  said the two soldiers were held by NPA guerrillas in Sitio Dalinding, Barangay Datu Inda in President Roxas town, North Cotabato and that two .45 cal. pistols were confiscated from them.

Initial reports from the  Philippine National Police in President Roxas said Sarocam and Valenzuela were abducted by more or less 20 armed men while the victims were on their way to Sitio Dalinding, Barangay Datu Puas Inda, a Lumad-dominated village.

Lt. Manuel Gatus, chief of the civil-military operations of the 57th IB, said the soldiers were set to conduct consultation-dialogue, as part of their peace-building initiatives in the village, when they were waylaid and brought to an NPA camp somewhere in Bukidnon.

Sarocam and Valenzuela are undergoing investigations “for serious violations they may have committed against the people and the revolution in the course of implementing the regime’s vicious counterrevolutionary war,” Santiago said.

Relatives of the captives had earlier appealed to the NPA to free them.

I believe my husband was just doing his job.  He is a good person and a good provider to his family,” said Jean, Sarocam’s wife.

Before this present assignment, Sarocam served as a member of the AFP’s peace contingent in a troubled country in Africa for at least six months.

Valenzuela, according to his mother Gina, is helping her send her other children to school.

“We don’t know where to get money for the enrolment of my other children.  June is fast approaching.  We depend much on my son Jayson,” she said. (MindaNews)