From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Dec 10): NPA blames Army on delay in soldiers' release
THE New People’s Army (NPA) has put the blame on the military on why until now the Maoist insurgents could not yet release the soldiers they are holding captive.
In a recent letter to the families of the two soldiers, NPA-North Central Mindanao Region spokesman Allan Juanito said they still find it hard to free Private First Class Marnel Cinches and Private First Class Jerrel Yorong due to the series of combat operations conducted by the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID).
“We regret to inform you that the release of the two soldiers will be delayed indefinitely. This is due to the ongoing military activity of the 4ID inside the NPA-NCMR’s area of operation,” Juanito said in the letter, referring to the families of Cinches and Yorong.
In November this year, the NPA said it engaged in 28-armed encounters with the military, which it claimed a guerrilla fighter was killed while dozens of government troops, including policemen and members of the paramilitary, were either wounded or killed in action.
“We assure you (the families) that they (captive soldiers) are in a safe place and far from where the encounters are happening. We are also doing our best to take care of them and their basic needs,” Juanito added.
The NPA, he said, is hoping the families Cinches and Yorong will understand that their captivity stems from the ongoing conflict between the Maoist insurgents and government troops.
“This is the reason why the Philippine government refuses to declare a Somo,” he added.
“As much as we want to release them this Christmas, the refusal of the AFP to declare a Somo has been causing this delay,” Juanito added.
Although the military has yet to comment on this latest statement from the NPA, in a previous interview, Major General Oscar Lactao, 4ID commander, maintained that the Philippine Army is bent on rescuing Cinches and Yorong from the clutches of the Maoist rebels.
Lactao suggested to the NPA to leave the two soldiers in a remote village in the mountains instead of asking for a Somo, adding the Armed Forces of the Philippines is in no way to negotiate with the leftist rebels.
Third-party facilitators, composed of church leaders and the chief of the local crisis committee, Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, are in the process of negotiating for the release of the two soldiers.