By BicolToday.com Staff
NETHERLANDS, 6April2017 (BicolToday.com) – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) reiterate their commitments to expedite the release of New People’s Army (NPA) and Prisoners of War (POWs) respectively.
The NDFP reiterated and confirmed the February 19, 2017 statement of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) directing the concerned NPA units to expedite the release of the six captured POWs still in their custody as a ‘positive gesture’ for the ongoing fourth round of the peace talks.
“In fact, pursuant to the said CPP directive, the process of releases was immediately initiated,” said NDFP.
Last March 25, however, two POWs, paramilitary members Rene Doller and Mark Nocus, captured in Lupon, Davao Oriental on February 14, were already released by the NPA custodial force to the members of the Third Party Facilitators and Independent Humanitarian Mission (TPFIHM) in Mati City, Davao Oriental.
4 Prisoners of War
Despite the difficult circumstances, the NDFP and the respective NPA commands continue to work closely with the members of the Third Party Facilitators and Independent Humanitarian Mission for the release of the remaining four (4) POWs.
The four remaining POWS namely PFC Edwin Salan, captured in Alegria, Surigao del Norte on January 29;
Sgt. Solaiman Calucop captured in Columbio, Sultan Kudaraton February 2; PFC Samuel Garay, also captured in Columbio, Sultan Kudaraton February 2; and PO2 Jerome Natividad, captured in Talakag, Bukidnon on February 9 would have also been released in earnest but for the continuous and heightened AFP operations in the provinces where they were captured, which is not only hampering the release but even placing the lives and safety of the said captured combatants and their respective NPA custodial forces as well as facilitators in serious jeopardy according to NDFP.
For the safe and orderly release of the POWs, as well as to facilitate the safe withdrawal of the concerned NPA custodial forces, the NDFP urges the GRP to order a ten-day Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) for the AFP and Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO) for the PNP in and around the areas where the POWs will be released.
The GRP said its security forces are amenable to suspending military and police operations for 10 days to allow the NPA to affect the POW releases to TPFIHM members.
SOMO and SOPO covered areas:
Talakag (15 barrios)
Lantapan (14 barrios)
Baungon (10 barrios)
Malaybalay City (Tampi in Mt. Kitanglad, 10 barrios)
Pangantucan (10 barrios)
Kalilangan (5 barrios)
Valencia City (near Mt. Kalatungan, 10 barrios)
B. Surigao del Norte
C. Agusan del Norte
D. Sultan Kudarat (not entire province, areas to follow)
E. Sarangani (not entire province, areas to follow)
F. South Cotabato (not entire province, areas to follow)
According to NDFP, the positive immediate response by the GRP in this regard will create the necessary favorable condition for the safe, expeditious and orderly release of the POWs, as well as the safety of their respective families and the members of the TPFIHM, and, also the safe withdrawal of the NPA custodial forces.
23 NDFP-listed political prisoners
The GRP for its part said it will soon release 23 NDFP-listed political prisoners held in various jails across the Philippines.
The GRP said most of the political prisoners to be released on humanitarian grounds are sick and elderly.
Four of the 23 political prisoners were convicted, including three NDFP consultants, who will be released through presidential pardon.
The NDFP and GRP said the agreement to expedite the releases of POWs and political prisoners are part of the successes of the ongoing round of talks. [BicolToday.com]