NDF-Southern Mindanao open letter to POWs' families

Rubi del Mundo

 NDFP- SOuthern Mindanao
July 23, 2013

Open letter addressed to the Families of Prisoners of War Cpl. Emmanuel Quezon (serial no. 827510), Pfc. Vernie Padilla (SN 898234), Pvt. Marteniano Pasigas (SN 901766), Pfc. Ronald Gura (SN 898248), and Pfc. Donato Estandian (SN 893670):

The NDF-Southern Mindanao wishes to convey the message that your sons and/or husbands are well, and are in the care and custody of comrades under the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion-New People's Army. Red fighters follow rigidly the NPA's eighth point of attention: do not ill-treat captives. With more than a month of detention under the auspices of the NPA, Cpl. Quezon, Pfc. Padilla, Pvt. Pasigas, Pfc. Gura and Pfc. Estandian bear the status of Prisoners of War who have the following rights under the GPH-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law:

a. (Article 4 no. 1) Respect for their lives, dignity, human rights, political convictions and their moral and physical integrity and shall be protected in all circumstances and treated humanely without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, faith, sex, birth, social standing or any other similar criteria

b. (Article 4 no. 6) Treated humanely, provided with adequate food and drinking water, and be afforded safeguards as regards to health and hygiene, and be confined in a secure place. Sufficient information shall be made available, and on humanitarian or other reasonable grounds, they shall be considered for safe release.

Your husbands/sons have these rights because they are party to the current prolonged armed conflict in our country. Their superiors in the 10th Infantry Division-Philippine Army attempt to ignore the reality of their situation as part of this armed conflict. The armed conflict or the civil war is between the NPA and revolutionary peasants and other basic sectors represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in the negotiating table on the one hand, and the Government of the Philippines on the other. Such armed conflict is rightly governed by the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. Unlike your sons/husbands' superiors in the Philippine Army whose human rights track record is dismal, the NPA adheres to these principles to the letter.

Currently, your husbands/sons are under investigation for possible violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that they may have committed in the course of implementing the US-Aquino regime's Oplan Bayanihan.

As part of the Philippine Army, your husbands/sons are directly responsible for implementing orders that have resulted in hurting innocent civilians in the areas where they have been deployed. They are part of the reengineered special operations teams who are responsible for the psychological warfare of peasant masses. Under the guise of peace and development program in the Oplan Bayanihan context, your sons/husbands are ordered to intimidate ordinary peasants, harass peasant families, dismantle peasant organizations and threaten the livelihood of the masses so that the military can control civilian villages.

Thus, direct culpability on the part of your loved ones or their innocence are being meticulously established. The Revolutionary Court follows the legal and judicial process as thoroughly as possible. Hence, a couple of weeks or even more than a month are not enough time to conclude this procedure.

Moreso, such process is being impeded by the ongoing intensified military operations in the peasant villages of Paquibato, Marilog, Calinan and Buhangin districts in Davao City, and in Carmen and Sto. Tomas towns in Davao del Norte. The “rescue” military missions dispatched in these areas are not for the purpose of securing your loved ones' safety. The AFP wants to save face from being defeated time and again by the NPA, with the AFP's so-called authority and jurisdiction undermined in the areas where they deploy the “peace and development” teams. The AFP also tries hard, but ultimately fails, to paint the NPA as terrorists and criminals, thus it unleashes fierce and anti-people chase operations. The NPA and the revolutionary movement have gained the trust of the masses through painstaking mass work and commitment to fulfill the aspirations for land reform and genuine development. No amount of media mileage and propaganda blitz can obliterate this fact.

And so, to hasten the expeditious release of your loved ones from NPA custody and legal and judicial process, your understanding and cooperation are imperative. This will complement efforts of well-meaning individuals from the church and local government units who are interested in the positive resolution of this issue. So long as guerrilla conditions warrant, any dialogue or opportunity for communication between us would be most welcome.

Serve the people!

Yours truly,

(sgd.) Rubi del Mundo


National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao