ZAMBOANGA CITY: A government soldier, whose unit was accused as behind the murders of innocent civilians in the province of Compostela Valley, was captured by communist rebels.
Daniel Ibarra, a spokesman for the New People’s Army (NPA)–Compostela Valley Davao Gulf Sub-Regional Committee, said Private First Class Rodello Canada Arigonan is being held as prisoner of war.
The soldier was captured during a rebel raid on the headquarters of the 71st Infantry Battalion in the village of Pangibiran in Mabini town. Ibarra said 11 army soldiers were killed and wounded in the attack.
Ibarra said the attack was in retaliation to the killings of Eddie Canon, who was a municipal coordinator of the Anakpawis party list group, and Ramil Lintas, a motorcycle taxi driver. Both were allegedly snatched and killed in May by members of the Military Intelligence Battalion under the 101st Infantry Brigade on suspicion they were rebels.
“The AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] perpetrates the worst forms of violence in the countryside with its US-designed Oplan Bayanihan. The military’s counter-revolutionary campaign forces the evacuation and dislocation of peasants to kowtow to the interest of land grabbers and big miners in Compostela Valley. Military units, like the children killer 71st Infantry Battalion, are responsible for the most despicable crimes against the people,” Ibarra said.
“As the NPA keeps custody of Arigonan as its prisoner of war, it will hold accountable elements of the reactionary armed force who continue to abuse poor peasants and indigenous peoples in the countryside. The NPA actively seeks and pursues revolutionary justice in the face of the US-Aquino regime’s continuing apathy. The hated regime condones human rights abuses that have only emboldened the AFP, PNP [Philippine National Police], paramilitary forces under the prevailing culture of impunity,” he said, referring to the national police and government militia forces.
Ibarra did not say what awaits the captured soldier, but NPA rebels usually interrogate their captive before facing the people’s court to stand trial for their war crimes.
There was no immediate statement either from the 71st Infantry Battalion or the 101st Infantry Brigade, which is under the 10th Infantry Division and Eastern Mindanao Command.
The NPA has been fighting for decades to overthrow the democratic government and install a Maoist state in the country.