The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao has suspended the release of two captive policemen after the military and police rejected its demand for a troop pullout and ceasefire.
Maria Malaya, spokesperson of the NDF-North Eastern Mindanao Region, said the release, which was scheduled Dec. 5, Tuesday, did not push through because the military and police have adopted a hard-line stance on their demands.
“Nakaung-ong na unta ang pag-reles kaniadtong Disyembre 5, 2017, apan wala madayon tungod kay wala motuman ang AFP ug gipadayon ang ilang mga operisyong militar,” Malaya said in a statement.
Malaya said heavy military and police presence and ongoing rescue attempts at an undisclosed village in Surigao del Norte, where the release was supposed to take place, forced them to cancel the release.
“Bungol ang militar ug kapolisan sa rehiyon sa pagpaminaw sa hangyo sa mga pamilya, kaparyentehan ug higala sa POWs ug sa mga nagpakabanang katawhan alang sa kalinaw sa pagkooperar para sa hapsay ug luwas nga pagreles sa mga POWs,” Malaya said.
“Busa dahumon natong malangan na usab ang maong pagreles sa POWs tungod sa gipakitang kamalinglahon, ug walay pagkooperar sa panig sa AFP/PNP alang sa luwas nga pagreles.”
The decision to release the captives was a gesture of sincerity in pursuing peace talks with the government, Malaya reiterated.
The NDF leadership already signed last month an order granting the immediate release from its custody of Police Officer 2 John Doverte and Police Officer Alfredo Degamon “without other pre-conditions except for troop pullout and implementation of ceasefire.”
The two, assigned at the Placer municipal police in Surigao del Norte were snatched by communist rebels while manning an outpost in Barangay Bad-as, on Nov. 13.
Chief Supt. Noli A. Romana, Caraga police director, said the police would never accede to the rebel demands, calling it as “totally unacceptable.”
“Our policy is very clear, no negotiation with terrorist groups like the NPA. If they’re really sincere in releasing them, they can do so and just leave our men anywhere,” Romana said.
Bishop Rhee Timbang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, one of the third-party negotiators, said the cancellation of the release was a frustration to members of a team of negotiators who worked double time for the early and safe release of the policemen. By GD