DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Days after communist rebels attacked a police station in Surigao del Norte and took 4 cops with them in their retreat, the New People’s Army declared the captured policemen as “prisoners of war (POWs).”
The NPA identified their prisoners as Police Officer 3 Vic Calubag Concon, Police Officer 1 Rey O’niel Morales, Police Officer 1 Joen Zabala and Police Officer 1 Edito Roquino.
Maria Malaya, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Northeastern Mindanao Region, said a rebel blocking force captured the cops while they were on their way to respond to the besieged police station in Alegria town.
Malaya said that the cops will be investigated and will be released if proven innocent of participating in any “anti-people and counterrevolutionary” activities, but added that will be “punished” if proven otherwise.
“The 4 POWs will undergo the process of investigation if they ever participated in criminal activities against the people and the revolutionary movement, and they will be released if they are innocent but will be punished by the revolutionary court of the revolutionary movement if they are found guilty,” Malaya said.
Malaya said military and the police pursuit operations should be temporarily halted to expedite the “investigation” of the 4 captives.
She said the policemen are “in good health aside from their difficulties in adjusting to the guerrilla lifestyle” and assured their families that the captives “will be treated fairly in accordance to the policies of the NPA and in accordance to the international protocols and laws of war.”
PNP Surigao del Norte spokesperson Police Inspector Elsa Montenegro confirmed that the NPA had captured 4 of their personnel.
Concon and Morales are from the Alegria Municipal Police Station while Zabala and Roquiño are from the Provincial Public Safety Company, Montenegro said.
About 60 NPA members attacked the police station on July 10. Two rebels were killed and two cops were wounded in the incident.
The military and the police have denounced the attack and are conducting pursuit operations in the area.
The Surigao del Norte mountains are known as strongholds of the communist movement in the country.
Peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) remains at a standstill, after a string of incidents, including the arrest of NDF “consultants” such as Benito and Wilma Tiamzon who are supposedly covered by the Joint Agreement on Immuninity and Safety Guarantees (Jasig).
The list if NDF consultants are in a file kept for safekeeping by a third party, but a verification process scheduled in 2012 failed as the file had been corrupted and could not be decrypted. – Rappler.com