NPA says it is holding soldier but Army commander says trooper 'AWOL'

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines -- The communist New People’s Army said it is holding an Army soldier its guerrillas had “arrested” in Tboli, South Cotabato almost two months ago.
Alejandro Magiting, spokesman of the NPA-Far South Mindanao Region Sub-Regional Operational Command, said Private First Class Khen R. Subere was captured on April 12 while “conducting civic military operations within (our) guerrilla zone."
The NPA made the announcement only on Tuesday, June 2.
Subere is a member of the 27th Infantry Battalion based in Tupi, South Cotabato.
Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Alcudia, commander of the battalion, however declared Subere AWOL (absent without official leave) after losing contact with the soldier on April 13, the day after he was abducted by the rebels.
“Subere was dropped from the roster of troops effective 23 (April),” Alcudia said in a statement, saying the soldier reportedly expressed “interest to discontinue his military service” even before he went missing.
However, Alcudia said they will exert efforts to work with law enforcement authorities and Subere’s family to locate the missing soldier who will be investigated for his “unauthorized” disappearance once he is found.
The NPA are demanding a suspension of military operations in South Cotabato to facilitate the release of Subere who they said has not committed “crimes against the people.”
“The Mt. Daguma SROC assures the family and loved ones of POW (prisoner of war) Subere that he is being accorded with his right to due process and humane treatment while in detention in keeping with the CPP - NPA's legacy in abiding by international humanitarian laws,” the rebels said.
Subere’s abduction by the rebels is the first in the region since 2001 when guerrillas under the NPA’s Valentin Palamine Command seized four alleged military informants in barangay Datal Blao, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.
The four were later executed after the government refused to negotiate for their release and their remains exhumed in April 2005.


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