MONTEVISTA, Compostela Valley—An interfaith group which served as the third party facilitator and was instrumental for the release of two prisoners of war (POWs) on Sunday said that such act is the New People’s Army’s compliance to Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
Private First Class Alvin Ricarte and Corporal Benjamin Enot Samano—both declared as prisoners of war (POW) by the NPA were freed Sunday afternoon in Montevista, Compostela Valley province.
Reverend Sarly Templado, spokesperson of Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP), said the release of Samano and Ricarte “signifies humanitarian initiatives and efforts to pursue the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and address the root-cause of the armed conflict in the country.”
Calls for the resumption of the stalled peace talks between the NDFP and the Philippine government have been echoed also by the family of the newly-freed soldiers.
Angelina Ricarte, mother of Pfc. Alvin Ricarte, said “it would be better if the government will resume the peace talks with the rebels so that we will have peace in our country.”
She urged the government “to heed the sentiment of people because it’s one way of showing its commitment to settle peace with the NPAs”.
This as she expressed gratitude to the EJP for the assistance it extended to them.
“Through EJP’s help, we are very happy because our son is with us today. This won’t also be possible if not by the assistance of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as he promised to us that before Christmas we will claim our son back.”
Though she observed that her son had lost some weight due to strenuous trekking, Ricarte, however, said: “We are thanking the NPAs also for treating our son well and for taking good care of him during the days his captivity.”
For EJP, “The government must also be demanded to respect and honor previously made agreements during peace talks which include the Joint Agreement on Safety Immunity Grant or JASIG that supposedly ensures the safety and immunity of NDFP consultants.”
According to EJP, there are 14 NDFP consultants who are still languishing in jail. They are among the total of 491 political prisoners nationwide. “This is a situation that taints the sincerity of the government to adhere the previously signed agreements from the peace talks.”
“We urge the GPH to release all the political prisoners in the country, including the NDFP consultants immediately. This is to hasten the peace process, to allow such individuals to take on their jobs of laying the foundations for talks between the government and the rebels,” said EJP.
The EJP, a group composed mainly of church people, lawyers, academe, people’s organizations, peace and human rights advocates, has been active as third party facilitator for the release of NPA POWs. (davaotoday.com)