MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/10 August) – The New People’s Army, in an email sent to the media today, has announced they have “accorded” the four personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) the status of “prisoners of war”(POW).
“Under international conventions, the POW status is a protective status that guarantees the recognition and full respect of the POW’s basic rights,” said Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command.
The four BJMP personnel were taken by the NPA in Kitaotao, Bukidnon last July 21 as they were transporting inmate Dennis Rodenas to a Davao jail. Rodenas, suspected to be a bomb expert and a ranking NPA member, was eventually freed by the NPA.
The NPA claimed that Rodenas was “unjustly sentenced” based on charges “fabricated by the Philippine Army.”
The BJMP personnel being held captives were identified 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.
“The aforementioned GPH personnel will enjoy their rights as POWs as long as they are not formally charged of any criminal offense before the People’s Court,” the NPA said.
But the NPA stressed that the POW status is “without prejudice to the possibility of filing criminal charges against any one of them before their court, if so determined in the process of the investigation.”
They said the BJMP personnel are considered POWs for possible involvement in violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Laws in the conduct of their role.
Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan, in a text message, said the NPA apparently wanted a swap of prisoners.
In an appeal aired over station dxDB, Inspector Guy Jason Reyes, Malaybalay City jail warden, said the NPA should release the captives as they are not combatants and two of them have lingering illnesses.
Without mentioning names, Reyes said one of the captives has gout arthritis and another one is suffering from high blood pressure. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)