SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
It is being reported that the communist led New Peoples’ Army (NPA) is going to release five paramilitary members that were first captured in a firefight back in October. John Rizle L. Saligumba in an article for Davao Today wrote:
Families of the New People’s Army (NPA)’s five captives sought for the latter’s release, as the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Southern Mindanao gave the release order Thursday.
Set for release were Barangay Captain Lito Andalique and Barangay Kagawads Marvin Bantuasan, Crisanto Piodos, and Balaba Andalique, and Cafgu tribal member Pepe Subla.
The NDF said they have “already apologized for their counter-revolutionary and anti-people activities.”
The NPA’s Comval North Davao South Agusan Sub Regional Command, who “arrested” the five, earlier said that though the four POWs were elected government leaders, they are also active members of the paramilitary CAFGU (Citizen’s Armed Force Geographical Unit) and thus are “legitimate targets for arrest” by the NPA.
Librando Perez, a datu (tribal chieftain) in Sabud, with four other cousins of the five POWs pleaded in a press conference Friday in this city, that the NPA’s POWs be spared as the latter were only “forced” to be “conscripted as Cafgus.”
“They were only forced to be Cafgus by the Mayor (Loreto Mayor Dario Otasa). They cannot say no. They were forced to do it because of the interest of the Mayor in plantation and in mining. Please spare them and return them to us,” said Perez.
Perez revealed that it was also the Mayor who pushed for the installation of an Army detachment in their village.
Ka Aris Francisco, the Spokesperson of the NPA unit said in an earlier statement that the POWs “are psychological warfare agents, who banned the masses from going to their farms and forcing them to remain at the village centers, in a blatant attempt to control their movement” and that “these POWs have campaigned hard against the NPAs, harassed peasant leaders, and strongly endorsed the entry of palm oil and mining projects-—projects that will eventually dislocate the masses and deprive Lumads of their ancestral domain.”
Meanwhile, Bishop Modesto Villasanta of Sowing the Seeds of Peacce, a third-party negotiator and peace process advocates organization of church workers, said he hopes that the NDF will again show “good will” and release their POWs safely.
“If the NDF wants to participate in the release of their POWs, we would be happy to respond as this would be a positive step in the peace process. We are asking them to take good care of their POWs as they have done so before,” said Villasanta.
Villasanta said that it is high time for the peace process to continue and he urges the government to start with the full implementation of the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law), a human rights accord signed by both the NDF and the former Estrada government.
He said that though the CARHRIHL was long signed, and is used as reference by both parties, in truth, it is not yet “fully implemented.”
“Included in the CARHRIHL is that both parties would recognize that each member of their armed group, either the NPA or the AFP, is only made to answer in their own separate courts,” he said.