NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands—The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) held a press conference this morning (local time) to reiterate their respective commitments to expedite the release of New People’s Army (NPA) prisoners of war (POWs) on one hand and political prisoners in the other.
“The NDFP today reiterates and confirms the February 19, 2017 statement of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) directing the concerned NPA units to expedite the release of the six captured POWs still in their custody as a ‘positive gesture’ for the ongoing fourth round of the peace talks,” the NDFP said.
Last March 25, however, two POWs, paramilitary members Rene Doller and Mark Nocus, captured in Lupon, Davao Oriental on February 14, were already released by their NPA custodial force to the members of the Third Party Facilitators and Independent Humanitarian Mission (TPFIHM) in Mati City, Davao Oriental.
The GRP said its security forces are amenable to suspending military and police operations for 10 days to allow the NPA to affect the POW releases to TPFIHM members.
The four (4) remaining POWs are PFC Edwin Salan (captured in Alegria, Surigao del Norte on January 29); Sgt. Solaiman Calucop (captured in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on February 2); PFC Samuel Garay (also captured in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on February 2); and PO2 Jerome Natividad, captured in Talakag, Bukidnon on February 9.
The GRP for its part said it will soon release 23 NDFP-listed political prisoners held in various jails across the Philippines.
The GRP said most of the political prisoners to be released on humanitarian grounds are sick and elderly.
Four of the 23 political prisoners were convicted, including three NDFP consultants, who will be released through presidential pardon.
The NDFP and GRP said the agreement to expedite the releases of POWs and political prisoners are part of the successes of the ongoing round of talks. # (Video by Jola Diones-Mamangun / Text by Raymund B. Villanueva / Featured photo by Jon Bustamante)