AGUSAN DEL SUR, Philippines — The six members of Army’s Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) who were captured by the New People’s Army (NPA) in December last year are now reunited with their families.
In a ceremony held in Barangay San Juan, Bayugan City on Thursday afternoon, February 7, the NPAs formally released CAA Eddie J. Tindoy, Benbinido A. Lamyon, Hermilito M. Iligan, Julian B. Gabiola Jr., Sony M. Malubay, and Marson C. Iligan.
The six militiamen were taken as prisoners of war after the successful raid launched by the NPAs in a military detachment last December 19 in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.
The NPA claimed no shots were fired during the raid.
The troops were released to representatives from the local government unit (LGU) of Agusan del Sur led by Vice Governor Sammy Tortor and church leaders acting as third-party facilitators headed by Bishop Delfin Callao Jr. of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
Ka Joaquin Jacinto, spokesperson of National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Mindanao said the release was carried out as a gesture of goodwill for the reopening of the formal peace talks between the government and the NDFP.
“Sa tinuod lang wala jud nisirado bisan kanus-a man despite all the accusation against the NPA and NDFP by the AFP na dili kuno mi abli sa hisgutanang pangkalinaw (In truth, we did not close our doors despite all accusations against the NPA and NDFP by the AFP stating that we are not open to peace talks).”
Jacinto added: “But actually it is our standing policy, and up until now it still stands, that we support the resumption of the peace talks.”
Ka Joaquin also made an assurance that they will release the remaining 10 troops held as prisoners of war by the NPA in Agusan del Sur “if the prevailing condition allows.”
This means a halt on military operations in the area to ensure the safe and proper release of the captives to avoid “collateral damages.”
The NPA-Agusan del Sur signed the release papers at around 5pm.
Ka Arina Magdiwang, head of the custodial unit handling the prisoners said the release was based on humanitarian reasons and in accordance with the NPA’s policy of lenient treatment of its prisoners.
All the prisoners expressed their thanks to their custodial unit and told reporters that they were treated well by their NPA rebels.
Benbinido A. Lamyong said: “They even attended to my medical needs. Their medical staff regularly check our medical conditions morning and afternoon as we traverse the mountains.”
“They offer coffee, let us take a bath, and even wash our clothes. We also eat the food they eat,” he added.
The prisoners were received by their families, a great gift in time for Valentine’s Day they said.
Other remaining POWs believed to be in the custody of NPA were Private First Class Darlino Carino Jr. and Cpl. Eric Manangan of the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion and eight militiamen.
The six CAA released is set to be turned over to the AFP’s 4th Infantry Division’s camp in Cagayan de Oro City. (davaotoday.com)