NPA-NEMR preparing to release the POWs, hampered by the continuous military operations of the AFP

The Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the command of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Front 21B and 21C disclosed that they are preparing to release the two soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion (SFB), Philippine Army (PA) and the 13 members of the Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) who are their prisoners of war (POWs). The plan however, is hampered by the continuous military operations launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the utter disregard of AFP officials and the Government of the Philippines (GRP) for the welfare of their troops captured by the NPA.

The POWs are currently under the custody of the appointed Custodial Forces of the NPA who are ensuring their safety, need and welfare. Their human rights are guaranteed and they are being treated well as prisoners of war in accordance to the policies of the New People’s Army (NPA) and People’s Democratic Government (PDR) and the provisions enshrined in the CARHRIHL and in international protocols of war.

Recall that the members of the AFP were captured during the consecutive successful tactical offensives launched by the NPA-Front 21C and NPA-Front 21B.

The first was the ambush by the forces of Front 21C and 21B against CAA members under the command of the 29th IBPA last November 29, 2018 in Brgy. San Antonio, RTR, Agusan del Norte. This resulted to the killing of one 29th IB soldier (cadreman) and two CAA members and the capture of another CAA personnel. The Red fighters confiscated 4 high caliber firearms (1R4, 1M16, 2M14) from the enemy.

The second was the raid without firing a single shot by forces of the NPA-Front 21C and 21B against the CAA-3rd SFB detachment in Brgy. New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur last December 19, 2018. Captured in this tactical offensive were two regular soldiers of the 3rd SFB and 12 CAA personnel who were on duty. The Red fighters confiscated 23 firearms (16 M16, 3 M14, 1 M60, 1R4, 1R4 w/ M203 & 1.45 cal. pistol), more that 7,000 rounds of ammunitions, a Harris radio, more than 100 bullets magazines, and other military equipment, from the enemy.

In reaction, the AFP ran amok by launching unrelenting military operations which has lasted for 25 days, in different areas of the region, especially in the provinces of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur. The Philippine Air Force launch indiscriminate bombings and strafing and threaten miners, farmers and Lumad earning a living in the said areas.

Since the last week of December 2018 until present, the said AFP troops incurred several casualties from the 6 counter-attacks launched by the NPA through harassments and use of command detonated explosives (CDX).

· December 23, 2018, a CDX exploded under operating troops of the 26th IB PA in Sumulon, Brgy. Padiay, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur;

· January 5, 2018 the NPA harassed 3rd SFB troops in the mountains of San Juan, Bayugan, Agusan del Sur;

· January 7, 2019 a CDX exploded under the 36th IB forces in the mountains of Manhulayan, Barangay Bolhoon, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.

These show that the officers of the AFP and GRP are unhearing of the humanitarian calls of families and relatives of the POWs and peace advocates, for the safe release of the prisoners of war. The AFP instead, launch malicious moves and attacks to destroy the NPA.

Thus, we call on the families and relatives of the POWs, peace advocates and all those concerned, to demand GRP President Duterte to take action to hasten the release of the POWs. We also call upon the officials of Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte and the chairperson of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) to create conditions to ensure the setting up of the safe and smooth release of the POWs. We challenge the politicians advocating for genuine peace to help ensure this.

We also challenge the AFP commands, especially the 4thID, 401st IBde and the 402nd IBde and PNP that if they truly support peace and are genuinely concerned for the welfare of the captured troops, they should ensure their safe release by implementing the Suspension Of Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension Of Police Operations (SOPO).

NPA-NEMR preparing to release the POWs, hampered by the continuous military operations of the AFP