AFP junks NPA SOMO demand for release of 2 soldiers
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Saying it does not negotiate with terrorists, the Philippine military on Tuesday, September 9, junked the demand of the New People’s Army (NPA) for a 10-day suspension of military and police operations for the release of two soldiers abducted by the rebels in Bukidnon.
The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) issued the statement shortly after the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Command “demanded” a government SOMO and SOPO declaration from September 10 to 20 as it expressed its “willingness” to release Private First Class Marnel Cinches and Private First Class Jerrel Yurong.
Captain Alberto Caber, Eastmincom spokesperson, said the military has brushed aside the NPA’s demand in exchange for the release of the soldiers.
Caber said Eastmincom Commander Major General Aurelio Baladad has ordered joint pursuit operations with the National Police against the NPA members who were involved in the abduction of the 2 soldiers.
Balalad took over the Eastmincom on September 5, replacing Lietenant General Ricardo Raineir Cruz who has retired.
Lieutenant Colonel Lennon Babilonia, 8th Infantry Battalion Commander, said, “Basically, we do not negotiate with the terrorist.”
Caber said the two soldiers detailed to the 8th IB were unarmed and in civilian clothes when they were abducted by the rebels on their way to Barangay Buntungon, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon for a livelihood mission on August 22.
Allan Juanito, spokesman of the NPA's North Central Mindanao Regional Command, said in a statement sent to the media on Monday night, September 8, that the rebels are willing to release the soldiers "as soon as possible, in accordance to a directive from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.”
"The two will no longer be subjected to the normal process of investigation and the revolutionary judicial process as a gesture of goodwill and sincerity from the revolutionary movement in its hope for the resumption of peace talks between NDFP and the government of the Philippines (GPH), and due to humanitarian considerations for the POWs and their families," Juanito said.
He said that in exchange, the rebels are demanding a SOMO and SOPO from September 10 to September 20 to "ensure the security of all who will participate in and witness the release."
Juanito said the scope of the SOMO would span Cabanglasan, Malaybalay City, Impasug-ong, Manolo Fortich, and Malitbog in Bukidnon; and Claveria, Balingasag, and Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental.
He said the CPP-NPA was to declare its own SOMO if the government acceded to its demand.
Juanito said the NPA planned to release the 2 soldiers to third party facilitators including representatives from the government, religious leaders, peace advocates and human rights groups. – Rappler.com