Communist rebels to free cop if AFP agrees to ceasefire in ComVal

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao on Sunday said it has ordered the release of Police Officer 3 Ruben Nojapa, who was “arrested” by New People’s Army rebels on March 18 during a raid on a village of Nabunturan, Compostela Valley.
The NDF spokesperson said the communist movement found no evidence the policeman had committed “serious crimes against the Filipino people and the revolutionary movement.”
“After Nojapa’s capture, he was investigated by the responsible organ of the NPA custodial force and no sufficient evidence was established to warrant his prosecution,” Rubi del Mundo, NDF spokesperson, said. The NDF official added that Nojapa has been having erratic blood pressure but has been generally in good health condition. Rebel medics have been giving him anti-hypertension medicine, said the NDF spokesperson.
But Del Mundo said the date of Nojapa’s actual release would depend on the military’s compliance with the NDF’s request “to cease its offensive military operations in Compostela Valley.”
“This is to pave the way for the safe, orderly and expeditious release of (prisoner of war) Nojapa. The US-Aquino regime’s provincial police force is, likewise, urged to do the same,” Del Mundo said.
(The NDF is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its army, the New People’s Army.)
As this developed, a military official said on Sunday he believed Nojapa was not with a group of NPA rebels trapped in a remote area of Barangay (village) Libasan in Nabunturan town.
The seven rebels were fleeing Sitio Sta. Ana after raiding the neighborhood of food and other provisions but were not able to get out when soldiers surrounded them, Col. Mike Logico, commander of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion, said.
Senior Superintendent Camilo Cascolan, Compostela Valley police chief, said the trapped rebels were part of a larger group, which kidnapped a member of the Nabunturan police last week.
But Logico said even if this was true, PO3 Ruben Nojapa was not with the trapped rebels and was “being held by another NPA unit and kept somewhere in the province.”
This was why soldiers could safely pounce on the trapped rebels anytime if they would not surrender.
“My assessment is that the enemies are trapped and hungry after being surrounded. They can’t get out unless they surrender,” he said.
Logico said if the rebels would yield, “we could bring them their next meal (but) if they choose to (fight it out), it would really be disadvantageous for them.”
In a related development, militant groups in Caraga region on Sunday slammed the March 23 arrest on rebellion charges of a lumad leader in Surigao del Sur.
Naty Castro, Karapatan secretary general for Cagara, said the filing of charges against, and the subsequent arrest of Jalandoni Campos was a “blatant political harassment of progressive people’s organizations and partylists.”
Campos is chair of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) – a lumad organization that covers the towns of Lianga, San Agustin and Marihatag in Surigao del Sur. He is also an official of the Katribu partylist for the province.
Based on police data, Campos had just emerged from Sure FM in Tandag City when arrested on the evening of March 23 for his alleged links to the April 28, 2011, New People’s Army raid on the Lianga police station.
The case against Campos and 36 other Mapasu members and civilians were filed at the Regional Trial Court Branch 28 in Tandag.
Authorities maintained that his arrest was in accordance with the warrant issued by RTC 28 Judge Alfredo Jalad.
He is currently detained at the Tandag City police station.
“The warrant of arrest was issued without allowing those accused to respond to the charges against them. Clearly there was no reasonable investigation to determine probable cause,” Castro said in a statement furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
She said Karapatan believed that the charges brought up against Campos and other Mapasu leaders were part of efforts to stifle opposition to the “military-backed” mining operations on Andap Valley complex.
“The case against Campos and Mapasu is among the 12 documented cases of trumped up charges filed against over 80 leaders and members of progressive organizations in the Caraga region (since last year),” Castro said.

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