Communist rebels free soldier

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

DAVAO CITY - The New People's Army (NPA) released Wednesday a soldier, who was held captive for 20 days, to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and peace advocates in Southern Mindanao.

Sgt. Jeric Bucio Curay, detailed at the Army's 72nd Infantry Battalion, was released in Barangay Casoon in Monkayo town in Compostela Valley at 12 noon Wednesday.

The prisoner of war (POW) was placed under the custody of the Compostela Valley-North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional Command of the NPA.


Curay was turned over to Duterte and to the members of the Third Party Facilitators who also negotiated for the safe release of the soldier.

Sgt. Jeric Curay gibuhian na
DAVAO. Gen. Ariel Bernardo walks Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte to the helicopter right after the mayor turned over Sgt. Jeric Curay, who was imprisoned by the New People’s Army for 20 days. In main photo, Curay is met by Major Jake Obligado. (Seth delos Reyes)

Curay who was accompanied by Duterte arrived at the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) in Panacan in Davao City around 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao Region (NDF-SMR) ordered the release of the POW few days ago, in response to the humanitarian appeals by the prisoner’s families, the local government units, and peace advocates.

Bishop Modesto Villasanta, of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines and convenor of the Exodus Justice for Peace, said as member of the Third Party Facilitator, its mandate is to actively initiate and participate in a human rights and peace efforts.

Villasanta, in behalf of the members of the Third Party Facilitator, also called for the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

He added that the peace talks will address the systematic problems and any other concern assailing the country.

"We do believe that the ongoing conflict in the Philippines is complex and deeply-rooted. The worsening impoverishment characterized by hunger, landlessness and joblessness of the majority of the Filipino people are results of a system that purports unequal distribution of wealth and resources," Villasanta said.

Major General Ariel B. Bernardo, commander of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, expressed his gratitude to the city mayor and peace advocates who negotiated for the safe release of the POW.

He added that such release could not be possible without the humanitarian appeals.

"He [Curay] will undergo physical and psychological stress debriefing at the Camp Panacan Station Hospital. If na determine naman namin na he is physically and mentally good, makakabalik at makakabalik naman siya sa service," Bernardo said.

Curay was abducted in Barangay Andap in Laak on April 4. He was unarmed when he was captured, Bernardo said. He added that Curay's abduction is a mere violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

NDF-SMR spokesperson Aris Francisco said in his statement that Curay was captured in line with the NPA’s campaign against elements of the government armed forces that are reportedly protecting big logging firms that wiped out forests in some Mindanao provinces.

Francisco said the arrest of the soldier and other tactical offensives should serve as a strong warning against their enemies who continue to protect exploiters of the remaining natural resources here at the expense of the environmental preservation and people’s welfare. (Sun.Star Davao)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 25, 2014.

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