NPA rebels hold Army commander captive Rebel spokesman says rebels are respecting First Lt. Vicente Cammayo’s rights as prisoner of war


By Al Jacinto, Correspondent

ZAMBOANGA CITY: A commander of the Army’s elite Special Forces, who went missing last week after a fierce firefight with communist rebels, is being held captive in Mindanao, a rebel spokesman said Sunday.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a New People’s Army (NPA) spokesman, said rebel forces are holding 1Lt. Vicente Cam-mayo, commander of the 11th Special Forces Company. “He was taken as an NPA prisoner of war,” Sanchez said, adding, the Alejandro Lanaja Command is holding Camayo captive.

Cammayo’s group clashed with rebels on November 7 in Compos-tela Valley’s Monkayo town that left two army soldiers and a government militia dead in the village of Casoon.

“The smashing blow the Alejandro Lanaja Command of the NPA delivered on an enemy unit touted as the regime’s elite combat forces is a testament to the increasing military capabilities of the New People’s Army. It is an apt punishment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the fascist and corrupt Arroyo regime for the grave atrocities it has committed and continues to commit against the Filipino masses,” Sanchez said.

Army Maj. Gen. Jogy Leo Fojas, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the offensive against the NPA would not stop until the rebel group is neutralized.

“Our troops will not get tired of running after the New People’s Army bandits,” he said. “We will never stop until we get hold of Camayo and return him to his loved ones.”

Sanchez warned any rescue attempt would put Cammayo’s life in peril. “The only cause of POW [Prisoner of War] Cammayo’s safety being imperiled emanates from the 10th Infantry Division’s futile attempt to mount a rescue operation,” he said.

Cammayo is being interrogated for possible human rights violations and other crimes related to operations of the Special Forces in Mindanao.

Sanchez said rebels are respecting Cammayo’s rights as a prisoner of war.

“His rights as a POW are guaranteed in consonance with the New People’s Army’s Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention and Protocol II of the Geneva Convention,” he said. “We assure his wife and family that he is well and is adapting to the guerrilla conditions of his captivity.”

The rebels also seized an M60 machine gun and one M14 and two M16 automatic rifles from Camma-yo’s unit during the fighting.

Aris Francisco, spokesman of the New People’s Army’s Alejandro Lanaja Command, accused the Third Special Forces Battalion to which Cammayo’s unit belongs, as responsible for the series of violations on human rights, protocols of war and international humanitarian law in Compostela Valley province.

Francisco said the Special Forces masterminded the June bombing in Nabunturan town that wounded several innocent civilians. “The bombing was a desperate and fascist attack in response to the sparrow operations of the New People’s Army which killed two of their soldiers at that time,” he said.

The New People’s Army also tagged Special Forces members as behind the brutal murder in June of a peasant leader Noli Llanos in Nabunturan’s Mipangi village, where rebels killed three government soldiers; and also the killing of farmer Diego Encar-nacion in the village of Linda in Nabunturan town in July. Both farmers were accused by the military as communist rebel supporters.

The New People’s Army, the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting the government the past four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (ManilaTimes)

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