Massive military operations in Rizal seriously endanger the lives of the 3 Prisoners of War

By Arman "Ka Arms" Guerrero
National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Rizal

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police never learned their lessons. Ten years ago, the New People's Army in the province of Rizal arrested and took as Prisoners of War (POWs) Chief Inspector (Major) Rene Francisco, then the Chief-of-Police of Montalban, Rizal, together with Master Sergeant Joaquin Melad of the Philippine Army. The AFP/PNP then launched massive military operations to rescue these POWs but almost killed them. They used their "elite forces" like the Scout Rangers, and thousands of military and police forces but they failed miserably in their attempt to rescue them.

The representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) were obliged to negotiate with the representatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for the release of these POWs. The negotiation was successful and the NDFP released them for humanitarian reasons and as part of the confidence building measures supporting the ongoing peace talks at that time between GRP and NDFP.

Ten years after, the AFP/PNP is faced with the same situation. Red fighters and commanders of the Narciso Antazo Aramil Command (NAAC-NPA-Rizal) arrested and took three (3) PNP personnel as POWs namely, Police Inspector Rex Cuntapay, PO1 Marvin Agasen and PO1 Alberto Umali, January 3, at Sitio (sub-village) Calumpit, Barangay (village) Macabud, Montalban, Rizal in the aftermath of the latter's offensive action. Upon capture, the three (3) POWs immediately called for Gloria Arroyo to negotiate with the NDFP for their safe release and for the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, based in Tanay, Rizal, to stop launching military rescue operations.

Instead, the AFP and PNP leaderships are directing the 2nd ID of the AFP and the Special Action Forces of the PNP to conduct massive military rescue operations. The destructiveness of these military operations to civillian lives, livelihood and properties can be measured by the extensive areas that it covers — extending the whole province of Rizal to the towns of Nakar, Infanta and Real of Quezon including the island of Polillio.

In violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Protocol II of the Geneva Convention, they launched food blockades, disrupted economic activities, harass and terrorize the people in the community especially the indigenous peoples of Dumagats and Remontados whom the units of the AFP/PNP suspect as being supporters of the NPA.

The AFP/PNP are disregarding the cries and pleas of the wives, children and relatives of these POWs to stop military offensives and instead to negotiate with the NDFP for their safe and orderly release. This only shows the utter contempt of the PNP as well as the AFP leadership and of Gloria Arroyo for the lives and safety of their Junior Officers and ordinary Police Personnel.

We assure the families of these three POWs that the NPA custodial forces uphold their rights in accordance with Protocol 2 of Geneva Conventions, International Humanitarian Law, CARHRIHL and Point 8 of "Three (3) Main Rules of Disicipline and Eight (8) Points of Attention" under Principle IV (Discipline) of the Basic Rules of the New People's Army popularly called Tres-Otso.

The Arroyo regime and the AFP/PNP leadership bear on their shoulder any action that may prejudice the safety and lives of the POWs with the continuous AFP-PNP massive military operations!