From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 20): AFP welcomes NPA decision to free abducted security forces
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday said that it will afford every opportunity to ensure the safe release of the six security troopers whom the New People's Army (NPA) abducted during a series of incidents late January and early this month.
"The AFP welcomes the decision of the NPA to release the security forces they abducted, we will afford every opportunity to ensure the safe release of these abducted soldiers and other members of security forces," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.
This includes relocating military units from areas on the dates these personnel will be released, he added.
"However our security forces should be released as an act of goodwill and not as leverage to constrain the government to go back to the negotiating table, the abduction of the six security forces who were not engaged in combat operations is not the cause of the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire of the government or the termination of the peace negotiation," Arevalo pointed out.
To be released are Pfc. Edwin Salan whom the NPAs abducted in Alegria, Surigao Del Norte last Jan. 29; Sgt. Solaiman Calucop, Pfc. Samuel Garay, who were snatched in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat last Feb. 2; PO2 Jerome Natividad who was bagged in Talakag, Bukidnon last Feb. 9 and militiamen Rene Doller and Carl Mark, who were both abducted in Lupon, Davao Oriental last Feb. 14.
"It is the brutal killing of the three soldiers, (who were found) riddled with at least 24 bullet wounds in Bukidnon, the burning of public conveyances and farm implements, the extortion by NPA among other atrocious criminal activities that caused the collapse of the talks," he added.
But if the NPA will come out with a formal announcement saying that they will stop their extortion and other destructive activities, this might demonstrate their sincerity and show their desire to go back to the negotiating table, Arevalo stressed.