Zubiri: NPA wanted to swap 6 prisoners for BJMP captives’ freedom

MALAYBALAY CITY – The New People’s Army have demanded for the release of six of their detained colleagues in exchange for the freedom of the four Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) personnel, Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri told reporters here Thursday afternoon.

But the former governor said the rebels did not name the prisoners from their ranks who they wanted released in exchange.

He said a lady emissary whom he did not name from the rebel group met with the wives of the captives last week and relayed the demand. Zubiri, who said he is the negotiator the rebels are talking to through Kitaotao mayor Rudito Rafisura, said he knew of no other demands from the NPA so far.

Zubiri said he is waiting for the group’s final demand before he will seek audience with national government officials, including Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin.

Zubiri said the topic on the suspension of the pursuit operations by the police and the military was not touched in the meeting between the wives and the rebel group’s woman emissary.

Supt. Canilo Fuentes, Bukidnon provincial police deputy director maintained in a text message to this reporter Wednesday that the NPA is only trying to catch attention.

“We know from the start that there was no operation and that the captives were government employees who were soft and helpless targets,” he added.

The New People’s Army, in an email sent to the media today, has announced they have “accorded” the four personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) the status of “prisoners of war”(POW).

“Under international conventions, the POW status is a protective status that guarantees the recognition and full respect of the POW’s basic rights,” said Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command.

The four BJMP personnel were taken by the NPA in Kitaotao, Bukidnon last July 21 as they were transporting inmate Dennis Rodenas to a Davao jail. Rodenas, suspected to be a bomb expert and a ranking NPA member, was eventually freed by the NPA.

The NPA claimed that Rodenas was “unjustly sentenced” based on charges “fabricated by the Philippine Army.”

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. (Walter I. Balane)

Find this story and other stories about Bukidnon, visit: www.mindanews.com

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