Goodwill gesture in the continuing celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines
Desperate AFP's barbarity to "rescue" POW Cammayo punctuated more human rights violations
By Rigoberto F. Sanchez
Spokesperson, Merardo Arce Command
NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operational Command
The New People's Army (NPA) custodial unit of Prisoner of War (POW) 1Lt. Vicente P. Cammayo (SN 864629) undertook safe and orderly release procedures today in the boundary of Laac, Compostela Valley Province and Loreto, Agusan del Sur. This is a gesture of goodwill on the part of the Communist Party of the Philippines on the occasion of its 40th anniversary. It further manifests the good faith of the NPA to its earlier statement in relation to the said POW's release on the first week of the new year.
Were it not for the 10th Infantry Division-AFP's arrogance and callous disregard for the well-being and safety of the POWs, 1st Lt. Cammayo would have been reunited with his wife and family much earlier. As it was, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) made sure that multi-sectoral initiatives for a negotiated release and cessation of military operations remain unheeded despite appeals from the POWs' wives, GRP local political leaders and church people.
When 1Lt. Cammayo surrendered to the Alejandro Lanaja Command-Front 3 Operations Command-NPA after his unit was ambushed in sitio Anagase, Barangay Casoon, Compostela Valley Province last November 7, his status was thereinafter recognized. All his rights were respected as guaranteed under the International Humanitarian Law, the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the NPA's Rules of Discipline. The NPA policy of humane and lenient treatment of POWs was practiced.
The 10th Infantry Division-AFP's two-month "rescue" operations showcased US-Arroyo's Oplan Bantay Laya II: ruthless and abusive of the people's rights with a mounting desperation accompanied by a massive mobilization of combat troops yet still ending as one big flop.
Failing to rescue the prisoner of war legitimately held by a revolutionary army possessing a near mastery of guerrilla warfare, cherished and protected by its widening and deepening mass base; the attacking units of the AFP left in its destructive path a string of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and committed common criminal acts. Among those initially reported by revolutionary mass organizations to the Davao-Agusan Command-NPA are the following:
- Indiscriminate aerial bombing and airborne machine gun strafing (November 28 and December 3) in Barangay Sabud, Loreto forcing farmers to abandon their farms, triggering a near-evacuation and causing fear among the civilian population in four barangays affected by the aerial bombardment;
- Arson committed by the 3rd Special Forces Battalion-AFP (house of lumad-farmer Boning Lope in Kilometer 20, Barangay Datu Dabaw, Laac last December 11); the smoke from the burning house served as a signal to the Huey helicopter that was transporting provisions;
- Arbitrary and baseless confiscation of indigenous hunting weapons done by the 60th IB-AFP in the hinterland lumad communities of Barangay Gumitan, Kapalong in Davao del Norte (December 19-23);
- Punching of a farmer tending his carabao by a Scout ranger element in Barangay Sabud;
- Acts of thievery done by the 3rd Special Forces Battalion-AFP in sitio Kilangkog, Barangay Kauswagan, Loreto (kitchen wares, shooting of backyard ducks);
- Forcible and unwarranted entry of civilian households in sitio Tagaytay, Barangay Kauswagan, Loreto by the 3rd Special Forces Battalion-AFP making a mess of the residents' personal belongings;
- Blocking the path of an NGO caravan that was assisting lumad communities in Barangay Kasapa, Loreto; the 26th-23rd IB-AFP refused the entry of European Union-supported and municipal LGU-facilitated delegation on December 3 in Barangay Valentina, Loreto;
- Intimidation, grave threats and other acts of harassment against the peasants and lumads.
The episode of 1Lt. Cammayo as prisoner of war ends today. But the futility and barbarity of the AFP all-out war will certainly continue under a fascist anti-people regime. The revolutionary forces are determined as ever to frustrate the enemy and reap far more victories.