GPH-NDF meet in Utrecht won’t take up release of soldiers held by NPA in Bukidnon

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews/22 October) – The release of two Army soldiers held captive by the New People’s Army in Bukidnon will not be taken up in a meeting between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Utrecht in the Netherlands this week, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said Wednesday.

Deles said the meeting in Utrecht will be “low-key” and will focus on finding ways to resume the stalled peace talks between the government and the NDF.

“There is no ceasefire. The release of the POWs will not be taken up in the meeting,” the official said during a roundtable discussion with journalists in Makati City.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Felixberto Calang met with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin last week to renew their request for a suspension of military operations to pave the way for the safe release of two soldiers held by the rebels in Bukidnon.

Army Privates First Class Marnel Cinches and Jerrel Yorong have been held captive by the NPA since August 22.

The military in Bukidnon said the two soldiers were snatched by the NPA while buying food supplies at a market in Impasugong, Bukidnon.

They were scheduled to be released last September but the plan was cancelled for unknown reasons.

Ledesma and Calang have taken up the cudgel of the families of the captured soldiers, and have asked both sides to ensure their safe release. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)