NDF to release all ‘prisoners of war’ in Mindanao

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/22 December) — Communist rebels have agreed to release nine captives including three police officers they seized last month in Alegria, Surigao del Norte.

In a statement emailed to MindaNews Sunday (December 21), the National Democratic Front-Mindanao said that all the “prisoners of war” in Mindanao will be freed.

The New People’s Army said it was holding three police officers from Surigao del Norte, two members of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit, two members of the 8th Infantry Battalion, and two other soldiers who were captured in Southern Mindanao.

The three captive police officers were identified as PO1 Democrito Bondoc Polvorosa and PO1 Marichel Unclara Contemplo of Alegria Police Station, and PO1 Junrie Amper of Malimono Police Station.

The NPA snatched Amper on Nov. 12 and Polvorosa and Contemplo on Nov. 16.

“The POWs will be released by their respective custodial units of the NPA in the three regions. Their release papers were signed by the National Executive Council of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines,” said the statement in Cebuano issued by Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, NDF spokesperson for Mindanao.

Madlos said the captives will not be subjected to trial by a “People’s Court” for humanitarian consideration and in the spirit of Christmas.

“We reiterate our sincerity in attaining genuine peace based on justice and seriousness in talking peace with the Government of the Philippines now represented by Benigno Aquino III by releasing the said captives without any condition,” the rebel leader said.

“In addition, the eight captives will be released as part of our colorful celebration of the 46th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Dec. 26, 2014 and the victories achieved under its correct leadership in over four decades of people’s war,” he said.

Madlos assured the families and the public that the captives were in good health and their basic needs were being attended to.

He further assured that the captives’ rights as “prisoners of war” under International Humanitarian Law were respected.

Madlos said the captives did not show behavior that would endanger their lives and were cooperative to the custodial units of the NPA.

“We asked the government to be sincere in their declaration of suspension of military operations and the suspension of police operations from December 18, 2014 to January 19, 2015 to pave the way for the safe release of the captives in as soon as possible,” he added.

The families and relatives of the captive policemen, who gathered at the Provincial Capitol Conference room on Monday afternoon, thanked the NPA for not hurting their loved ones.

On Sunday, the NPA freed Private First Class Alvin Ricarte and Corporal Benjamin Enot Samano, both members of the 60th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. The release took place in Montevista, Compostela Valley.

Samano and Ricarte were captured during a raid by the NPA Guerilla Front 33 at the compound of Sumifru in New Corella town, Davao del Norte province last December 2.

Last week, the Central Committee of the CPP responded to the month-long ceasefire declared by the government with its own declaration of a five-day truce for the holidays and another five-day truce for the Pope’s visit in January. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)