DAVAO CITY—The New People’s Army in North Central Mindanao Command called for a 10-day Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Offensive Police Operations (SOPO) from 12:00 midnight of September 10 until to 12:00 midnight of September 20, 2014 to facilitate the safe release of two soldiers they are holding as prisoners of war (POW) in Bukidnon.
“We hope the Aquino government will put the safety of its soldiers first, and more importantly, that it will show its sincerity to resume peace talks with the NDFP in order to discuss and address the root causes of the people’s armed resistance,” Allan Juanito, Spokesperson of NPA-North Central Mindanao Regional Command, said in a statement.
Juanito said the “NPA will immediately declare its own suspension of offensive operations with the same duration and scope as soon as the GPH declares its SOMO and SOPO.”
He added the SOMO and SOPO will be observed in the municipalities and cities of San Fernando, Cabanglasan, Malaybalay City, Impasug-ong, Manolo Fortich and Malitbog in Bukidnon; and Claveria, Balingasag and Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental.
The two military soldiers held captives by the NPA since August 22 were identified as Pfc. Marnel Tagalugon Cinches and Pfc. Jerrel Hapay Yorong of the 8th Infantry Battalion.
“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 added that “NPA custodial unit will turn the two POWs over to third party facilitators composed of concerned GPH officials, religious leaders in the region, media representatives, peace advocates and human rights groups.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has thumbed down the NPA’s proposal.
Eastern Mindanao Command Commander Maj. Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad said that it “directed the concerned military unit commander in the area to continue its joint pursuit operations against the NPA members.”
“These operations contribute to the peace and security of the people and its communities in the region,” Baladad said
In a statement, 8th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Lennon G. Babilonia said that “the joint military and police operations will continue in the province. Basically, we do not negotiate with the terrorist.” (davaotoday.com)