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Military operations in Compostela Valley derail release of prisoners of war

Spokesperson, NDFP Southern Mindanao

For humanitarian reasons, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Southern Mindanao is ready to suspend its ongoing legal proceedings, and instead order for the release of Prisoners of War Private First Class Jezreel Maata Culango (serial No. 89158) of the 60th Infantry Battalion, and Police Officer 1 Ruel Pasion (Badge No.194812), who are both under the custody of the New People’s Army Comval North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional Command.

The release order for the two POWs, however, is being derailed with the current offensive military and police operations in the likely release site.

The 10th Infantry Division, Armed Forces of the Philippines, has intensified its military operations packaged as “rescue” and “peace and development” operations in the hinterlands of Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley, and Davao del Norte provinces.

The military’s “rescue” operations aim to: 1) deliberately imperil the lives of the POWs; 2) hamper the legal and judicial processes applied to the two POWs who are being investigated for their role in the 60th IB’s fascist human rights record in Laak, alongside with the Philippine National Police; and 3) prolong the custodial detention of the enemy captives.

The government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) is solely responsible for the consequences of its militarist actions. While the 10th ID-AFP is certainly not interested in the release of its elements and is compromising the safety of the POWs, it is coercing the families of the POWs to pressure the NPA for the release.

The military utilizes the POW-taking to pursue its bloodied targets under the Oplan Bayanihan counter-revolutionary program in Southern Mindanao. Not only is the 10th ID in full battle gear in Typhoon Pablo-stricken provinces, the fascist mercenaries in uniform are also relentless in their abusive operations in the Davao city countryside, particularly in the districts of Baguio, Carmen, Calinan, and Paquibato.

In other areas in the region, it pursues full-scale offensives against the masses in a futile attempt to counter its mounting failures amid the ever-rising political and military capabilities of the NPA despite the Oplan Bayanihan. On 12 February, the 1st Pulang Bagani Company of the NPA successfully punished the abusive Palparan battalion 69th Infantry Battalion of the AFP in Purok Tubod, Lumiad, Paquibato district, Davao City. Two AFP troops were killed and five were wounded by the NPA’s command-detonated explosives.

In sheer ignorance of international humanitarian law, the AFP depicts the capture of an armed personnel belonging to a party to an armed conflict as a “violent criminal act.”

Yet, despite the AFP’s warped pronouncements, the NPA is determined to fulfill its task to hit the enemy who harm the interests of the people and to take POWs as a legitimate act during an armed conflict. This is all in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the NPA policy of humane and lenient treatment of its POWs, and the legal and judicial system of the People’s Democratic Government.

Indeed, in the midst of the armed hostilities of the fascist AFP, the legal and judicial processes of the revolutionary movement may be suspended, depending on the political and military situation, in the exercise of its revolutionary power as a distinct government.

(Sgd) Rubi del Mundo
NDFP-Southern Mindanao

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