WITHOUT waiting for a copy of the announced Suspension of Military Operations order from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the New People’s Army (NPA) released two of its prisoners of war (POWs) this morning in Matan-Ao, Davao del Sur to a third party facilitator and local government officials.
The NPA’s Front 74 Mt. Alip Command turned over Philippine Army’s Sgt. Solaiman Calocop and Pfc. Samuel Garay to Rev. Redemeer Yañez, IFI of Koronadal and of the group Sowing the Seeds of Peace as well as Davao del Sur provincial administrator Marc Anthony Cagas.
The NPA reportedly held the turnover ceremony at Matan-Ao because it was not as militarized as Sultan Kudarat where Calocop and Garay were captured.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Far South Mindanao for its part said the release of the POWs was in accordance to the NPA’s commitment to comply with the Geneva Convention.
The NPA National Operations Command earlier complained it could not effect its announced release of five POWs because of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police’s refusal to suspend operations.
“Continuing offensive military and police operations in the Socsargen area have impeded the New People’s Army (NPA) from releasing two prisoners of war,” NPA spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, in an April 12 statement, said.
The NPA said it planned to turn over Calocop and Garay to the third party facilitator last April 11 but cancelled because continuing military and police operations put the safety of the POWs, their families and third party facilitators at risk.
The POWs are soldiers of the 39th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army.
They were captured by the NPA in Columbia, Sultan Kudarat province last February 2.
The NPA is also set to to release three other POWs in Bukidnon and in the Caraga region. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)