The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) today hailed the Narciso Antazo Aramil Command (NAAC) of the New People’s Army (NPA) for the successful release of prisoners of war Police Inspector Rex Cuntapay and two of his men, Alberto Umali and Marvin Agasen. The three were freed last Friday in Rodriquez, Rizal.
Fidel V. Agcaoili, spokesperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, lauded the NAAC “for abiding by international humanitarian law (IHL) and the NPA’s own Rules of Discipline in extending humane treatment to the three POWs and ensuring their safety despite the unrelenting military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the province of Rizal”.
At the same time, Agcaoili lambasted the AFP and the PNP for disregarding the well-being of their own men in pursuing rescue operations and delaying the issuance of the so-called suspension of combat operations despite the persistent pleas of the relatives of the POWs and the intercession of well-meaning elements.
“In fact, the AFP violated their so-called suspension of combat operations in fielding armed agents in the vicinity of the release area. To ensure the safe release of the POWs, the NPA kept the agents under temporary custody and confiscated their firearms before handing them over to Bishop Gabriel Reyes after the signing of the release papers and the turn-over of the POWs to the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by the NPA custodial unit,” Agcaoili added.
The NDFP also extended its thanks to Senator Maria Consuelo Madrigal, Rizal Governor Casimiro Ynares III, Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo, Bishop Emilio Marquez of Lucena City and the ICRC for helping facilitate the safe and orderly release of the POWs.
“Sen. Madrigal, Gov. Ynares, Bishop Gabriel Reyes and the representatives of the ICRC braved rain and muddy roads and paths to help secure the release of the POWs. We are grateful for their patience and commitment to the safe and orderly release of the POWs,” Agcaoili said.
“We call on the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime to reciprocate this humanitarian and goodwill gesture of the NDFP by releasing its consultants under GRP custody and surfacing or accounting for the disappeared in order to help pave the way for the resumption of the formal peace talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” Agcaoili concluded. [NDFP-IIO]