NPA takes BJMP captives as prisoners-of-war

MALAYBALAY CITY – The New People’s Army has announced they have “accorded” the four personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) the status of “prisoners of war” in a statement dated August 9, emailed to Bukidnon News Wednesday.

The NPA referred to the captives as they “were taken into custody in the course of the operation to effect the release of Dennis Rodenas,” Rigoberto Sanchez,spokesperson of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command said in the statement.

Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan has confirmed this in a text message to Bukidnon News, adding, they wanted swap of prisoners. Citing international conventions, the NPA said the POW status is a protective status that guarantees the recognition and full respect of
the POW’s basic rights.

But the NPA stressed that the POW status is “without prejudice to the possibility of filing criminal charges against any one of them before their court, if so determined in the process of the investigation.”

They said they are considered POWs for possible involvement in violations of human rights and IHL in the conduct of their role.

“The aforementioned GPH personnel will enjoy their rights as POWs as long as they are not formally charged of any criminal offense before the People’s Court,” the NPA added in the statement.

In an appeal aired over station dxDB, Inspector Guy Jason Reyes, Malaybalay City jail warden, said the NPA should release the captives as they are not combatants and two of them have lingering illnesses. Without mentioning names, Reyes said one of the captives has gout arthritis and another one is suffering from high blood pressure. The BJMP personnel being held captives were identified as Jail Inspector Eric D. Llamasares (Ozamiz jail warden, of Philippine National Police Academy Class 2007), Jail Inspector Murphy B. Todyog(PNPA Class 2008), Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio E. Begontes
and Jail Officer 1 Rolando D. Bajuyo Jr.

Last July 21, NPA guerrillas posing as soldiers intercepted a BJMP vehicle in Maluos, Barangay Sinuda in Kitaotao, set free a convicted inmate identified as Dennis Rodenas, and took with them the four jail officers. Rodenas, alleged to be a bomb expert and a ranking NPA member, was being transported to the Davao Penal Colony to serve time for illegal possession of explosive components. The NPA claimed in another statement that Rodenas was “unjustly sentenced” based on charges “fabricated by the Philippine Army.”

The NPA has accorded a prisoner-of-war status to Jail Inspector Murphy B. Todyog, Ozamis City warden Jail inspector Eric D. Llamasares, Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio E. Begontes and Jail Officer 1 Rolando D. Bajuyo Jr.

The NPA also mentioned in the August 10 email that Lingig, Surigao del Sur mayor Henry Dano “was disarmed and taken into custody in order to subject him to an investigation.”

They added that they will determine his alleged individual liability with respect to complaints lodged against him “before the People’s Court for various armed hostile acts against the revolutionary forces”.

Supt. Canilo Fuentes, Bukidnon provincial police deputy director maintained that the NPA is only trying to catch media attention, there was no operations and that the captives were government employees who were soft and helpless targets. (Walter I. Balane)

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