The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has demanded the release of a New People’s Army (NPA) leader arrested in Don Carlos, Bukidnon.
In a statement late Tuesday, the CPP said the release of Zaldy Cañete, or Jinggoy, would be in return for the
NPA considering captured soldiers as “prisoners of war” to be treated “leniently,” and even released promptly.
Cañete was arrested on Thursday last week by the military and police while he was inside the intensive care unit of a hospital in Don Carlos.
“He was recovering from a brain surgery to treat a bullet injury he sustained in a firefight last May 10 in Kitaotao town,” the CPP said.
“He was under the watch of his family and hospital doctors,” it added.
The CPP insisted Cañete must be “expeditiously released” by the military, citing provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl).
“[This] stipulates that persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict shall be considered for safe release on humanitarian or other grounds,” the CPP said.
It also said that releasing combatants nabbed during armed conflict was a practice of humanitarian exercise observed since World War 2.
“[It is also] enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, which the NPA strictly observes,” the CPP noted.
The Armed Force’s Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) said only the court could order the release of Cañete, as he was arrested by virtue of a warrant.
“Why would we release him? How about the justice that should be served for their victims? He was not removed from the hospital and he is being accorded with medical attention,” said Maj. Ezra Balagtey, EastMinCom spokesman.
“We also want him to recover so that he can face the charges filed against him,” Balagtey added.