NPA releases soldiers after days in captivity

AFTER DAYS in captivity, communist rebels finally released to authorities Tuesday morning the two soldiers they abducted last April 24 after the successful negotiations initiated by the provincial government of Compostela Valley.

Lt. Colonel Joselito Rolando Bautista, commanding officer of the public relations office of the 10th Infantry Division based in Panacan, said Governor Arthur Uy personally fetched Sgt. Napoleon P. Gerasmio of the Army Reserve Command and Sgt. Huberto C. Corbita of the Special Operations Command from the members of the New People’s Army Front Committee 20 in Sitio Salvacion, Barangay Ngan, Compostela, Compostela Valley, after 12 days in captivity.

He said the soldiers were subsequently turned over to Lt. Colonel Bienvenido Datuin, commanding officer of the 28th Infantry Battalion, at a local hotel in Compostela town 12:30 pm for debriefing.

“The army appreciates the effort of the local government executives who facilitated the release of the soldiers.  After the agonies that their families suffered, the soldiers can again join their families, happily,” Bautista said.

He said the army will not stop in its security operations against the rebels so that the people in the region can live in peace, harmony and prosperity.

The rebels, on the other hand, cited humanitarian grounds as the basis for the release of the soldiers.

“We have given due consideration to the appeals made by their respective families and those emanated from well-meaning friends in the various sectors including those from the GRP local government units,” a statement by Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the Merardo Arce Command-Southern Mindanao Region, posted at the rebel website said.

Earlier, the rebels  assured the families of the non-commissioned officers abducted on April 24 in Sitio Mabatas, Barangay Upper Ulip, Monkayo, Compostela Valley of humane treatment while under their custody.

Sanchez confirmed the soldiers were in their custody after they were taken by the members of the rebel front committee 20 under a certain Ka Lalay.

He said the two soldiers were being treated as prisoners of war and were subjected to interrogation to determine any culpability for serious violations of the human rights and international humanitarian law based on their participation in past military operations.

“They are being given humane and lenient treatment befitting their status as POWs.  Such is in accordance with the NPA’s implementation of Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions, the GRP- NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAR-HR-IHL) and the NPA’s Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention,” Sanchez added.
(Mindanao Times)

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