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.
Eventually, the fate of the proposed law will be decided in the plebiscite to be conducted next year, insha Allah.
While we cannot generalize those anti-BBL views as outright anti-people stances, but this point in time, after all aspects of the BBL have been lain bare, it is extremely hard to distinguish views made out of conviction and those simply to stain the proposed law. The burden to discriminate them rests with the exponent and the people will judge.
Among the ranks of the Moros, only very few expressed reservations about the proposed law. For what reason or reasons might be personal or they are not well aware of the provisions of the proposed law and how they will trickle down to the benefits of the people, especially the underprivileged, the poor and the unrepresented.
Clearly the Moros are overwhelmingly behind the proposed law, including those in the island provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan. Even MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari is silent these days on the BBL. We do not expect him to come out openly for the BBL, but just to be mum on the BBL is already a sign of greatness in the offing.
To date, there is hardly any Moro leader or politician who has not expressed support to the BBL. We are sure everybody will be on board soon.
However, much to our surprise, most of the negative rumblings emanate from people outside the jurisdiction of the proposed Bangsamoro Government. We will not name names anymore, because the public has known them ever since. For what logic, we can only say, we do not know of any logical reason.
As clearly stated time and again, the BBL is a menu to address the Moro Problem or Question which has pestered the country for decades and which caused it to lag far behind its ASEAN neighbors. Solving this problem is solving the nation’s problem. The BBL is a menu for peace, development, and unity of this country.
This is the reason --- never mind the spoilers --- that whoever criticizes the BBL is adopting an anti-people stance. The BBL is for the entire inhabitants of the Bangsamoro, be they Muslims, indigenous peoples (IPs) or Christians. Being Bangsamoro is only an identity; it does not confer any privileges. If any group who has been given special privileges in the BBL, they are the IPs.