Communist rebels are in search of options to safely release the two Special Forces soldiers and 13 militiamen, whom they had captured in separate operations in Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur late last year.
Maria Malaya, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Northeastern Mindanao (NDF-NEMR), said in an e-mailed statement that New People’s Army (NPA) was studying how to safely release the captives without endangering their lives and that of their rebel captors amid the refusal of the armed forces to suspend military operations in areas where the captives are being held.
Malays said the rebel group was just waiting for a favorable timing for the release of what they call prisoners of war (POWs), including a temporary halt in fighting.
“The plan, however, is hampered by the continuous military operations launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the utter disregard of AFP officials and the Government of the Philippines (GRP) for the welfare of their troops captured by the NPA,” Malaya said.
Two soldiers and 12 militiamen were taken after a raid on a government militia detachment in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur on December 19.
Another government militia was captured in an ambush in the town of Remedios T. Romualdez in Agusan del Norte on November 29. During the attack, a soldier and two militias were killed.
Malaya said the captured government forces were treated fairly and “their human rights are guaranteed and they are being treated well as prisoners of war in accordance to the policies of the NPA and the provisions enshrined in the CARHRIHL and in international protocols of war.”
She urged families of the captured soldiers and militias and third-party facilitators to help demand from President Duterte the facilitation of the release through the Suspension of Military Operations and Suspension of Police Operations.
“We also call upon the officials of Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte and the chairperson of the Regional Peace and Order Council to create conditions to ensure the safe and smooth release of the POWs. We challenge the politicians advocating genuine peace to help ensure this,” Malaya said
Creating a safe condition could ensure the release of their captives despite the massive military operations being conducted on the ground, she said. By CLC