Peace group praises NPA’s plan to release 4 BJMP officers

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/1 Oct) – A peace group is heartened to learn that the National Democratic Front (NDF) has positively responded to the humanitarian appeal to release the four personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

For Bishop Felixberto Calang, of the Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao, the most viable means to secure the release of the captured BJMP personnel is not through hostile military operations but through dialogue and negotiations.

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. were abducted last July 21 by the New People’s Army as the rebels rescued one of their comrades being transported to the Davao Penal Colony. The daring NPA raid took place at dawn along the highway in Kitaotao, Bukidnon.

For months, according to Calang, the group has kept their hopes, despite obstacles and challenges, that the day would come when the four BJMP personnel would be reunited with their families.

The group has also recognized the efforts of the local officials in making the release of the jail officers possible. They identified these leaders as Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, North Cotabato Gov. Lala Mendoza, Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario and Bukidnon Vice Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri.

The group has also urged President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to make mutually beneficial measures by reciprocating the NDF call for favorable conditions for release.

“We are hoping that the GPH bureaucracy will be exhausting prudent measures towards this end; we are likewise hoping that the armed forces will yield to civilian authorities so that any unsafe circumstance that may affect or jeopardize the release is averted,” said Calang.

The group has also reiterated calls for the release of all political prisoners.

In a statement issued to media, NDF negotiating panel chair Luis Jalandoni said the front is ready to release the four personnel of the BJMP in the custody of the New People’s Army.

“For humanitarian reasons in response to repeated appeals of the families of the four prisoners of war and as a confidence building measure to enhance the atmosphere for the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations, the NDFP is taking this decision,” Jalandoni said.

He stressed that as soon as the suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) and suspension of offensive police operations (SOPO) are issued in writing, the NDFP shall issue the order of release of the four BJMP captives and the cease and desist order to the NPA for determining the specific area and time period of the SOMO and SOPO.

“We require that the SOMO and SOPO allow the necessary, reasonable and flexible scale of time and area for the safe and orderly release of the captives at the initiative of their NPA custodians,” he said. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)