On humanitarian grounds, safely release elderly NPA fighter in Tagum City—CPP/NPA
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) Southern Mindanao Regional Operational Command today demanded the immediate safe release of an elderly NPA fighter arrested with two others in Tagum City.
According to the regional command of the NPA in Southern Mindanao, Victor “Ka Pong” Rollon, Christine Joy “Ka Rye” Dula and Chargelyn “Ka Jillian” Casquejo were all non-combatants when troops swooped in and arrested them in a community in Barangay La Filipina in Tagum City last March 9.
The three were arrested on March 9 by combined forces of the 1001st Infantry Brigade and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. They were planted with evidence to incriminate them on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives on top of the trumped-up cases of rebellion, murder, serious illegal detention and robbery in band already filed against them.
Ka Pong is elderly and suffering from various ailments due to his advanced age. Ka Jillian, a medic, was attending to Ka Pong and conducting mass work and information drive on health and production among the peasant masses in the area with the help of Ka Rye.
“On humanitarian grounds, we urge the captors of Ka Pong to effect his immediate safe release, in order for him to seek proper medical treatment and convalesce from his ailments,” said CPP Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena.
Rigoberto Sanchez, NPA-SMR spokesperson, added that the three must immediately be given medical attention, especially Ka Pong. “They must likewise be allowed visitation by their families and relatives or confer with human rights advocacy groups to ensure that their rights and welfare are not being violated,” he said.
Valbuena also condemned how the arrested fighters of the NPA are being treated and made to appear like common criminals. He denounced the police for “planting evidence and falsely charging them of crimes without basis.”
“We denounce the publication of the picture of Ka Pong posed with the planted evidence, and the pictures of Ka Rye and Ka Jillian, as if they are common criminals, in outright violation of due process,” said Valbuena. “Under international humanitarian law, captured officers and fighters of either side should be accorded the dignity and respect as fighters or officers of the armies and people they represent.”
He added that in line with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the three should be treated humanely, provided with adequate food and drinking water and confined in a secure place with adequate facilities for health and hygiene, and access to their lawyers and families.
“The enemy’s common cruel treatment of captured or surrendered comrades is a far cry from the humane treatment that the NPA promptly extends to its prisoners of war,” Sanchez lamented.
He further emphasized that while Red fighters provide the most considerate treatment of POWs under guerilla conditions, captured or surrendered comrades by enemy troops are more often than not subjected to torture, ruthlessly interrogated, held incommunicado or disappeared or even summarily killed. (CPP Information Bureau)