11 August 2009

NEW People’s Army rebels raided a military detachment in Barangay Napungas, Davao del Norte while using a soldier, two village councilors and a child as human shields last Sunday.

A report to the Philippine Army headquarters said the still undetermined number of rebels belonging to the local terrorist front 33 held at gunpoint councilors Mariolito Maniha and Junton Peniero, an unnamed soldier and a girl in Barangay San Miguel, Davao del Norte.

From there the rebels raided the military post in Napungas, using their hostages as human shields and the soldier among the four to give orders to his colleagues not to resist.

Taken from the detachment were 15 rifles and a radio transceiver. The hostages were freed several kilometers away.

Maj. General Reynaldo Mapagu, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, condemned the incident as proof of the NPA’s “vile character” and disregard for human rights.

In Negros Occidental, a former NPA who joined a breakaway group, was shot dead by three suspected former comrades in Cauayan.

Insp. Louie Figueroa, Cauayan police chief, identified the fatality as Jose Salve, alias Ka Simon, who joined the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas (RPMP), a political wing of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade.

Salve’s companion Dionesio Pat, an organizer of the Democratic Association of Labor Organization, was hit in the left arm.

Salve, 60, who used to be a member of the executive committee of the Negros Island Regional Party Committee, was among the local party leaders of RPMP which was founded by Arturo Tabara after breaking away from the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1992. Tabara himself was assassinated, reportedly his former comrades, in 2003.

Meanwhile, Presidential adviser on the peace process Avelino Razon Jr. yesterday said the formal peace talks with the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) will resume tentatively in the last week of August, instead of October.

Razon said the government peace panel to the NDF headed by former labor secretary Ma. Nieves Confesor is preparing for the resumption of the peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway.

He said the back-channeling effort paid off when the NDF agreed to resume the formal peace talks. “I am looking forward to the resumption of the peace talks,” he said.

The peace talks with the NDF collapsed when it withdrew from the negotiations after the US and the European Union included the NPA, the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines, in the foreign terrorist organizations list.

Government lifted last July 17 the suspension of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees to pave the way for the resumption of the talks. — Raymond Africa, Gilbert Bayoran and Regina Bengco