BJMP captives appeal to negotiators, military: suspend operations

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/29 August) – The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel abducted last month by the New People’s Army in Kitaotao, Bukidnon appealed for the suspension of military operations against the rebel group in order not to delay their release, according to video clips emailed by the National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao.

In the same video clips sent yesterday the captives also assured their families they were being treated well and given their basic needs by their captors.

The rebels abducted Jail Inspectors Eric Llamasares and Murphy Todyog , Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio Begontes and JO1 Rolando Bajoyo Jr. during a daring early morning “rescue” of their alleged comrade Dennis Rodenas last July 21 along the highway in Kitaotao.

Rodenas, alleged to be a bomb expert and a ranking NPA member, was being transported to the Davao Penal Colony from Ozamiz City to serve time for illegal possession of explosive components.

Llamasares, Ozamis City jail warden, was seen speaking in a 53-second clip asking the government and those involved in the negotiations for their release to stop the military operations.

“Morag mao na siya ang nakadugay para matagaan og dalan ang among release,” (It seems this [military operations] is the thing that’s delaying our release) he said.

Llamasares donned a grey collared shirt. Several times he rocked towards the camera and at some point smiled to assure they had no problems, and ended his message by saying “thank you”.

He added that they were treated well and given food and water by their captors. “Just wait there, we can come home,” he told his family.

Todyog said they have received “humane treatment” and also assured his family they are “okay” even if he said that they have been exposed to rain and cold. “We are still alive,” he added.

Wearing a printed brown shirt and smiling at the start of his 77-second video clip, Todyog cited that they have been captives for more than a month. He said the video was taken on August 23.

He appealed to the military to give way to negotiation “in order not to hamper” the process of their release.

It was Begontes, who identified himself in his video clip as a paralegal escort of the detainees, who said he is a POW (prisoner of war).

He said his only problem was missing his family as they were treated like visitors.

“Don’t prolong it (negotiation) as we are needed by our family,” he appealed in his 2 minutes and16 seconds long video, the longest of the four clips.

Begontes appeared relaxed in his video. He was wearing a dark blue collared shirt and a folded bonnet. He also said they were given their basic needs including health checkups.

Bajoyo, too, assured his family that he was being treated well by their captors. Like his fellow captives, he asked the military to suspend operations against the NPA.

Except for Todyog, the captives appeared to have shaved. Only Todyog’s hand, too, was seen on the video. It was not clear if the three other captives were handcuffed.

Llamasares’ video showed a fatigue-colored tarp as background and his body from the chest up. The videos of the other captives suggested that they were taken in a forested area and only showed their heads and necks.

In an email sent on August 10 the NPA said they have accorded the four BJMP personnel the status of “prisoners of war”.

“Under international conventions, the POW status is a protective basic right,” said Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)