ZAMBOANGA CITY: The New People’s Army on Monday released five policemen who were captured more than a week ago in a simultaneous raid in Davao City in the Southern Philippines, a rebel spokesman said.
Rubi del Mundo said the release of Chief Inspector Leonardo V. Tarungoy, PO3 Rosenie L. Cabuenas, PO3 Rudolf Y. Pacete, PO3 Abdul Azis A. Ali Jr. and PO2 Neil C. Arellano was largely due to “humanitarian consideration to the appeals of peace-loving organizations acting on behalf of the families and relatives of the prisoners of war.”
They were captured on April 16 in the village of Salapawan in Davao City’s Paquibato district, where rebels attacked and overran an army post manned by the 72nd Infantry Battalion.
The rebels earlier released videos of the prisoners, and it showed the policemen appealing to the government to halt the military shelling and suspend police operations in Davao for fear they would be killed in the continuing assault.
The safe release of the prisoners also coincided with the 43rd anniversary of the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The rebels have been fighting for decades now in an effort to set up a separate communist state in the country.
“The entire revolutionary movement in Southern Mindanao and the whole of the Philippines congratulate the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion in their safe custody of the five POWs in the face of the so-called rescue operations of government troops in Paquibato, Davao City,” del Mundo said.
He said rebel forces are still holding 11 prisoners of war in the Southern Philippines.
Del Mundo also appealed to the public to support mass protests being held by hungry farmers, whose rice fields and plantations were devastated by severe drought caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon. He encouraged other victims of calamities who were neglected by the Aquino government to join the protests, not only in Mindanao, but elsewhere in the country to dramatize their disgust and demand for justice.
“The NDFP in Southern Mindanao encourages the masses of peasants and Lumads in the countryside to participate in the wave of protests currently proliferating in all parts of the country. The masses who are presently in barricades, in pickets or in camp-ins, vow to waver not an inch in demanding for justice against the US-Aquino III regime’s fascist crimes in the Kidapawan massacre and other areas,” he said.