SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 Jan) – To “pave way for the safe and orderly release” of the three policemen snatched by New People’s Army (NPA), the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has declared a 13-day ceasefire in Sirogap del Norte.
Ka Maria Malaya, spokesperson of NDFP-Northeastern Mindanao Region, said in a letter sent to MindaNews Tuesday that the local ceasefire would take effect on the same day until January 19.
But this local ceasefire, Malaya said, would only take effect once all operating units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit and paramilitary units completely cease all their offensive military operations, which include the Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) and other such operations.
This local ceasefire, she said, covers four towns in Surigao del Norte – Claver, Bacuag, Alegria, and Gigaquit – and in the municipality of Kitcharao in Agusan del Norte.
“This is a supplemental ceasefire to the 10-day ceasefire declared by the NDFP at the national level,” Malaya said.
She said this local ceasefire has been declared to avoid potential encounter between the NPA custodial forces and operating units of the AFP, PNP and CAFGU.
She added that this would also provide security and safety for the families of the “prisoners of war,” members of the Third Party Facilitators and others who will attend the actual release of PO1 Democrito Bondoc Polvorosa and PO1 Marichel Unclara Contemplo of the 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 last year.
In its separate letter, the NDFP-North Eastern Mindanao has also issued an order of release for the three captives.
“Heeding the request of the family and loved ones of the POWs, the NDFP-NEMR deemed it necessary not to proceed with the preliminary investigation and trial proper, and thus ordered their immediate release,” Malaya said.
She, however, did not disclose where and when will the policemen be freed.
“This local ceasefire declaration and the eventual release of the prisoners of war in Surigao del Norte form part of the confidence building measures of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines for the resumption of the peace talks,” Malaya said.
“In compliance with this unilateral ceasefire declaration, all units of the New People’s Army (NPA) have been ordered to cease all their offensive action against the AFP, PNP, CAFGU and other paramilitary troops,” she added.
The government earlier declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire from Dec. 19 to Jan. 19.
The CPP-NDF-NPA reciprocated with a staggered truce covering Dec. 24 to 26; Dec. 31 to Jan. 1; and Jan. 15 to 19.
But the communists accused that despite the AFP’s Suspension of Military Operation (SOMO) and the PNP’s Suspension of Police Operation (SOPO), there are still violations committed, foremost of which is the COPD.
Malaya said that should the government forces “remain adamant in their position, and in effect in jeopardize the security of the NPA custodial force and the POWs themselves, the NDF-NEMR shall have no other recourse but to cancel the release.”
Of the nine original captives, only the three policemen from Surigao del Norte have remained in the hands of the NPA, according to Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, spokesperson of NDF-Mindanao.
Madlos told MindaNews during the 46th CPP anniversary celebration on December 26 in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur that military operations in Surigao del Norte continued despite the SOMO declaration, thus preventing the release of the remaining captives.
He said government forces were still deployed in Claver, Gigaquit, Bacuag, Placer, Tubod and Alegria towns and some parts of Agusan del Norte.