Press Statement | 23 February 2017
On behalf of the people’s democratic government, the National Democratic Front in Mindanao shall release the six (6) prisoners of war (POW) who were arrested earlier this year and are currently in the custody of the New People’s Army (NPA) in 4 separate regions in the island.
These releases, that will be promptly disclosed soon by the various regions, shall be carried out as a gesture of goodwill for the resumption of the peace talks. These are also in response to the request of the families and loved ones of the POWs, as well as to the call of various concerned sectors in society.
Both the NDF and NPA in Mindanao, acting on the call of the CPP, have already begun the process to facilitate the immediate and safe release of the following 6 POWs: 1. PFC Edwin Salan, captured in Alegria, Surigao del Norte on January 29; 2. Sgt. Solaiman Calucop and 3. Pfc Samuel Garay, captured in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on February 2; 4. PO2 Jerome Natividad, captured in Talakag, Bukidnon on February 9; and, 5. Paramilitary Rene Doller and 6. Paramilitary Carl Mark Nucos, captured in Lupon, Davao Oriental on February 14.
The actual safe release of these abovementioned POWs however can only be realized if and when the AFP, the PNP and the Local Government Units (LGUs) give their full and undivided cooperation. The NDF-Mindanao, therefore, encourages GRP President Rodrigo Duterte, who himself is a veteran at facilitating POW releases, and the LGUs concerned to direct the AFP to implement a temporary suspension of military operations (SOMO), and the PNP, a suspension of police operations (SOPO), in areas which the NDF in the region concerned will specify and announce soon.
Both the SOMO and the SOPO will help expedite the safe release of the mentioned POWs. Without which, the lives of these POWs and those who will receive them will be put in danger, and, therefore, any manner of prisoner release becomes impossible.
We also encourage the families of the POWs, alongside various groups from the church, the academe, peace advocates and other concerned individuals and aggrupation, to make an appeal before President Duterte, for him to respond to this call positively to ensure that the POWs will be released safely and be once again locked in the embrace of their loved ones.
In earnest reply to the AFP’s dare to “just do it, release them”, the NDF-Mindanao says “yes we will” but only if the AFP, PNP and their troops fully cooperate by way of a SOMO and a SOPO and avoid acts of treachery that will bring harm to the POWs, their loved ones and the third party facilitators. If these conditions are satisfied, the release will push through. The ball is now in the AFP’s hands.#
Ka Joaquin Jacinto