NPA Acts on Appeals from Captured Soldiers' Families; 2 Prisoners of War Freed on Humanitarian Grounds in Southern Mindanao

Isabel Santiago
Herminio Alfonso Command, NPA-Southern Mindanao
29 May 2011

Philippine Army enlisted personnel captured by the New People's Army in President Roxas town, North Cotabato on April 14 have been released today in Magpet, North Cotabato. The custodial unit under the Herminio Alfonso Command-Guerrilla Front 53 Operations Command-NPA carried out the release procedures on the basis of the release order made by the Merardo Arce Command-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command of the NPA.

The regional command of the NPA ordered the release of POWs Corporal Delfin Largo Sarocam (SN 797683) and Private First Class Jayson Burgos Valenzuela (SN 872545) of the 57th Infantry Battalion under the 6th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command-AFP for humanitarian reasons. Appeals have been made earlier by their families and multi-sectoral groups for the 4th and 6th Infantry Divisions-AFP to pull out their troops so that the POWs' release can be considered by the NPA. In contrast to the intransigence of the Philippine Army, the New People's Army gives value to humanitarian appeals.

The POWs' release would have been much earlier had these Philippine Army Divisions immediately heeded the clamor of their families, the various people's organizations and well-meaning individuals. The enemy's full combat operations designed as a "rescue mission" ended in complete failure and only succeeded in prolonging the POWs' captivity.

To give way to the release on humanitarian grounds, the MAC-NPA ordered the suspension of the investigation underway against the two POWs for possible violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in the course of their participation in the armed counterrevolutionary war of the Philippine government. The POWs' case information shall be archived but their release will not prejudice any future action under justifiable grounds.

The NPA has a policy of humane and lenient treatment of its captives. The custodial unit applied the pertinent provisions under Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions with respect to the rights of POWs Cpl. Sarocam and PFC Valenzuela.

As the people's army continue to intensify its tactical offensives alongside the implementation of the revolutionary land reform and the building of the mass base and local organs of democratic political power in the countryside, it shall also continue to exercise its revolutionary authority to arrest and capture enemy officers and personnel in the course of the civil war in the country.