By JORGE MADLOS (Ka Oris)
The five-day ceasefire declared by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines – North Eastern Mindanao Region (NDFP-NEMR), which began 12:00 of 27 July 2014, covering six (6) towns of Agusan del Norte and three (3) of Surigao del Norte, ends today, 01 August 2014, at noontime. The said ceasefire has been called for to provide the safe and orderly release of the four Philippine National Police prisoners of war (POW) who have been under the custody of the New People’s Army as a result of the successful raid on the Alegria police headquarters on 10 July 2014.
The NDFP-Mindanao expresses its sincerest gratitude to the members of the Third Party facilitators, headed by the Rev. Bishop Rhee Timbang, Fr. Ramada, and other religious groups, who have been hard at work, magnanimous and patient to bridge and forge a workable agreement between the NDFP-Mindanao and the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) with regard to the terms of the ceasefire and the actual release.
Thanks is likewise extended to the representatives of the GPH, through the good office of the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP for reciprocating and abiding by the five-day local ceasefire, calling off all offensive and civil-military operations within the areas concerned.
The NDFP-Mindanao greatly appreciates the effort of the GPH, which, on the day of the release was represented by former DAR Secretary Hernani Braganza who represented the office of DILG Secretary Mar Roxas; RPOC Chairman and Butuan City Mayor Jun Amante; Agusan del Norte Governor Angel Amante; Surigao del Norte, League of Philippine Board Members President Myrna Romarate; Bacuag Mayor Shiela Mae Cebedo; Kitcharao Mayor Aristotle Montante; and city councilors from Surigao City. Their presence has given much reassurance not only to the four POWs but to their families as well of their concern towards the safety and welfare of their men in the field.
After the NPA Custodial Force turned the four POWs over to the Third Party Facilitators, they were subsequently presented to the GPH officials led by DILG Sec. Mar Roxas, Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, OPAPP Sec. Teresita Deles, and PNP Chief Alan Purisima, who were waiting for the arrival of the four in Kitcharao town, Surigao del Norte.
We give our Red salute to the NPA custodial force and units who masterfully handled the rigors of holding prisoners of war by following protocol and international laws of war. Congratulations to the Red commanders and fighters who best expressed our call for the resumption of the peace talks between the NDFP and the GPH. The four prisoners of war were all from the PNP, namely PO3 Vic Calubag Concon, PO1 Rey O’niel Morales, PO1 Joen B. Zabala, and PO1 Edito Roquino.
During their 19-day detention, the four POWs were treated humanely and with utmost respect. The NDFP decided not to proceed with the preliminary investigation and a possible trial before the People’s Revolutionary Court, and to have them released as a gesture of goodwill for the resumption of the peace talks. Their early release was also in answer to the request of their families and loved ones as endorsed by the Third Party Facilitators.
We pay homage and give our highest honour to comrades Richard “Ka Mark” Balbada and Ka Jomar Kalipis who heroically offered up their lives during the NPA operations in Alegria. We congratulate the Custodial Force for their revolutionary professionalism who, in spite of the death of two of our comrades, still consciously adhered to the respect of the basic rights of the POWs, and treated them in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and the International Laws of War with regard to the treatment of captives.
With the end of the five-day ceasefire, we ask all concerned NPA units to stay on alert and maintain our battle-ready and offensive posture against the onslaught of a new wave of brutal military operations, in order to defend the masses as well as all our revolutionary gains in the aspects of base building and agrarian reform in the countryside.