Military still verifying reports NPA has freed jail personnel

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/01 August) –The military said they are yet to confirm reports the four jail officers from Ozamiz City who were abducted by the New People’s Army in Bukidnon have been released.

“We are still confirming sketchy reports of their release. However, unless we receive confirmation reports from our live units deployed in the area, we maintain our demand that the jail officers should be released at once without conditions,” Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, 4ID spokesperson said in a phone interview Monday.

Last July 21, NPA guerrillas posing as soldiers intercepted a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology vehicle in Maluos, Barangay Sinuda in Kitaotao, set free a convicted inmate identified as Dennis Rodenas, and took with them the four jail officers.

The NPA identified their captives as Jail Inspector Eric D. Llamasares (Ozamiz jail warden, of Philippine National Police Academy Class 2007), Jail Inspector Murphy B. Todyog (PNPA Class 2008), Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio E. Begontes and Jail Officer 1 Rolando D. Bajuyo Jr.

Rodenas was being transported to the Davao Penal Colony to serve time for illegal possession of explosive components.

The NPA claimed in a statement that Rodenas was “unjustly sentenced” based on charges “fabricated by the Philippine Army.”

Reports aired by station dxDB in Malaybalay quoted military sources as saying that Rodenas is a ranking NPA member and a bomb expert.

Osias said the rebels should immediately release the captives without condition as they are not combatants.

He said the NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has gone too far in abducting the four BJMP personnel.

“They cannot and should not be considered combatants. They were armed for security purposes only because they were transporting convicted criminals. They were not armed for combat mode,” he said.

“They have committed a crime by springing Rodenas free because he is a convicted criminal,” said Osias.

Meanwhile, J/Insp Clint Rusell Tangares, BJMP-10 Deputy Director for Administration would not comment on rumors of an impending revamp of all BJMP-10 personnel.

Kitaotao Mayor Rudito Rafisura has formed a team that would negotiate for the release of the captives, but he has not announced any progress so far. (Cong Corrales with reports from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)