by DAVAO TODAY
The New People’s Army released on Friday five barangay officials of Barangay Sabud, town of Loreto, Agusan del Sur after clearing them from having committed “serious crimes to the people” as members of the paramilitary Cafgu.
The five, Marven Buntuasan, Crisanto Piudos, Lito Andaleque, Balaba Andaleque and Pepe Sudla, were captured last October 24 after the NPA’s North-Davao Agusan-South Command launched raids in military detachments in Sabud and Barangay Mansanitas.
The five prisoners of war were turned over to a representative of the provincial government, Jocelyn Bahade of the provincial peace and order council.
In a statement read during the release, the NDF Southern Mindanao ordered the release of the officials as “investigations showed there was not sufficient evidence to continue with the prosecution of the prisoners of war on serious crimes.”
The statement further said other reasons were based on the NDF’s “lenient treatment on POWs and observance of the Geneva Conventions and Protocol 1” and “considerations from the appeals made by the families and individuals who supported for a negotiated settlement on the POWs.”
After their release, Sabud said he would quit being a Cafgu and focus now on being a kagawad (councilor).
It was only after their release that Sabud learned he and his colleagues were reelected to their posts in the October 28 barangay elections.
“Ang priority nako sa akong kabahin, kining Cafgu, undang ko ani. Mao ning nakasagabal sa akong serbisyo. (My priority now is to stop being a Cafgu. This has been a hindrance to my service),” Sabud said.
“Mo istorya na mi nga dili na mi ani. Kay ikaduha namo ning kinabuhi. Kung padayon pa nila ang ginaingon nga Oplan Halang-Halang, dili na mi ani. Kay gitagaan mi sa taas ug pribelehyo. (We’ll tell the (soldiers)that we will quit. Because this is our second chance in life. If they want us to continue with this Oplan Halang-halang, we don’t want anything to do with it. Because were given by someone up there the privilege of a second life),” Sabud added.
The NPA leader Ka Kaloy explained to reporters that they launched “tactical offensives” on reports of harassments on the farmers after the military detachments were established in the barangays as part of military operations against NPAs.
“Pagsulod sa military sa pagtukod detatsment sa Mansanitas, diha nakasinati ang mag-uuma og grabeng paghulga. Mao na dili na sila tarong sa pag uma, ug dili na luwas sa pagsuspitsa. Kining si Kapitan Andeleque , gigamit sa military nga kasangkapan aron hadlokon ang mga maguuma nga napugos og pamakwit kay hadlok sila gamiton nga taming. (Since the military came and established the detachment in Mansanitas, the farmers experienced threats and that affected their farming as they were treated with suspicion. This Captain Antinique was used by the military to scare the farmers who were forced to evacuate or else they will be used as human shields,” explained Ka Kaloy.
“Ang mga dili mamakwet, pasanginlan nga mga NPA. Kung dili mag report, ilang panghasion nga sila NPA ug ilang palayason ug pangsunogon ang mga balay. Mao nang sila namakwet. (Those who did not evacuate were suspected as NPAs. If they did not report (to the soldiers) they will also accuse them as NPAs. They will drive them out and burn their houses. That’s why they evacuated,” he added.
The operations also forced Loreto farmers and Agusanon Manobos to evacuate last July to Davao City, and made their return after the intercession of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who brokered a dialogue between Loreto Mayor Dario Otasa and Eastern Mindanao Command officers to withdraw from the communities.
Bahade told reporters that the five would be presented to Mayor Otaza then turned over to Agusan del Sur Governor Edward Adolph Plaza in Prosperidad town for psycho-social intervention and support for the families.
But Ka Kaloy slammed the provincial government for not acceding to their demands for a suspension of military operation (SOMO) that would have allowed the safe release of the officials.
“That’s the reason we had to do this here in a remote area instead of a nearby place to spare all of you of the inconvenience,” Ka Kaloy said. “This just shows the insincerity of the provincial government in helping work out a peaceful conduct of release. They might have thought that because these are Cafgus, we will not sincerely do our part to release them.”
Ka Kaloy also criticized Mayor Otasa for recruiting Cafgus to conduct “clear-hold-develop” operations for the British Palm Oil Limited (BPOL) which reportedly would convert 36,000 hectares in Agusan del Sur for palm oil plantations.
“What will the farmers eat if their lands will be planted with palm oil? They just survived (Typhoon) Pablo and haven’t recovered, and now they will lose their farms,” Ka Kaloy said. (davaotoday.com)
agusan, NPA, pow, prisoner, prisoner of war, war