Captive asks military to stop his rescue

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: The New People’s Army (NPA) on Monday released a second video clip of the captured police officer in Davao Oriental who appealed again to the military to stop rescue operations for fear of his safety.

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The video, sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner by NPA spokesman Rigoberto Sanchez, was the second since June after capturing Chief Inspector Arnold Ongachen, police chief of Governor Generoso town. Ongachen was taken on May 29 during a daring assault on a police station.

He said the prisoner is being investigated by a rebel court for his alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in the town after a packet of shabu was seized from him during the raid.

In the video, Ongachen appealed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to halt all operations to free him from captivity and urged the Duterte government to resume peace talks with the NPA.

“I’m asking the AFP to stop the military operations and give way to the peace talks which have long been asked for by our countrymen. I wish that we allow the peace talks to proceed so that we will understand why our fellow Filipinos are fighting the government. This problem has not been understood by many of us,” the bemustached police officer, wearing a black shirt, said in Filipino.

It was not known whether Ongachen was speaking under duress but the frames of the clip were obviously edited several times and put together for the three-minute video.

In the same clip, the police chief said aside from him, the rebels were also holding several people who were taken prisoners for using illegal drugs.

Ongachen said he is being treated well by his captors and added that the NPA enjoys community support although he did not say where he is being held.

Sentence him
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier appealed to the rebels to immediately free Ongachen but has given up efforts to secure his safe release after learning from the NPA that the rebels confiscated drugs from him.

Duterte, who publicly declared war on illegal drugs, said the fate of Ongachen is now up to the NPA. “You have a kangaroo court. Sentence him to 20 years of hard labor,” he said. “I said I’d be harsh [on illegal drugs]. I’m sorry for that guy.”

Sanchez earlier said the town has been identified as gateway of the illegal drug trade in the province and that government officials have ignored the existence of nefarious activities there. He also accused the 28th Infantry Battalion of sabotaging the NPA’s planned raid on a laboratory being run by drug syndicates in the village of Tibanban.

The rebel spokesman also accused politicians and other military and police officers for involvement in such activities and warned that they are now target of the NPA’s war on illegal drugs.

“It is in the class interest of feudal lords, bourgeois compradors and bureaucrat capitalists that illegal drugs should proliferate in the country. The detestable US-Aquino regime has allowed this menace to take root and spread. This is yet another crime that the outgoing reactionary regime and its Oplan Bayanihan have to be held accountable for,” Sanchez said.

Oplan Bayanihan refers to the government’s anti-insurgency campaign, which the NPA said violates rights of innocent people, resulting in extrajudicial killings in the countryside.

Sanchez said the release of the clip affirmed the NPA’s continuing campaign against illegal drug syndicates in the country. He added that the daring raid in Generoso town is a blow against the unholy alliance of reactionaries and the Armed Forces who continue to peddle illegal drugs in the province.

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