Communist guerrillas who kidnapped two soldiers and 12 militiamen in Agusan del Sur say they will be released in exchange for a Christmas truce.
The military has confirmed that the Army soldiers and members of a Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) were taken hostage by the New People’s Army (NPA) today (Wednesday, December 19).
“The Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion is now pursuing the perpetrators who immediately fled after the incident. Soldiers were also sent to the area to investigate the incident,” the Army unit said in a statement.
Fourth Infantry Division Commander Major General Ronald Villanueva added that the guerrillas also took two dozen firearms with them. The kidnapping happened without any exchange of fire, he said.
A report said that about 50 NPA members attacked the New Tubigon Patrol Base in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, at 3am.
The military said the 3rd Special Forces Battalion was now pursuing the perpetrators, and reinforcements have been sent into the area to investigate the incident.
Government forces are on heightened alert as the NPA has previously vowed to overthrow the administration when it celebrates its 50th anniversary later this month.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana dismissed the possibility of a holiday truce with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Meanwhile, the CPP has called on its communist guerrillas to “mount tactical offensives across the country” in response to the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“All NPA units must exert all possible effort to punish the worst fascist units and officers of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) who have committed grave crimes against the people,” a statement from CPP said hours after Congress approved President Duterte’s request for the extension.
Today, the CPP has said the 14 “prisoners of war” would be released if the military stopped all offensives over the Christmas season.
“The 14 prisoners of war taken yesterday in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur are being treated leniently. It is best that they be released soonest so they can be with their families this Christmas.
“This can be realised if the AFP will relent in its offensives to pave the way for their safe and orderly release,” the CPP said.
Last Christmas it was President Duterte that declared a unilateral truce. In response an NPA spokesman vowed to fight for the removal from office of the “madman and Adolf Hitler of the South”.
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