Philippines: NPA frees army sergeant on ‘humanitarian grounds’

May. 08, 2007

The Merardo Arce Command-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army has released Philippine Army S/Sgt. Albert A. Baludoya, who has been held as its Prisoner of War since April 13. S/Sgt. Baludoya (Serial Number 771837) is the Aliwagwag, Cateel detachment commander of the 72nd Infantry Cadre Battalion under the 10th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He was arrested during a mobile checkpoint set-up by a platoon of the Conrado Heredia Command-NPA along Barangay Aragon road in Cateel town in Davao Oriental. Upon his arrest, he was carrying communications equipment where directives from his higher command were dispatched.

The Conrado Heredia Command-NPA conducted a preliminary investigation over POW S/Sgt. Baludoya and submitted the results to the Merardo Arce Command-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command-NPA (Merardo Arce Command-SMROC-NPA) for proper disposition. The special investigative body set-up by the Merardo Arce Command-NPA has found out that in his 17 years in the AFP, POW S/Sgt. Baludoya actively participated in combat, intelligence and special operations and other destructive anti-revolutionary campaigns in the towns of Asuncion and Talaingod in Davao del Norte, in Loreto town in Agusan and in Davao Oriental, among others, where he was assigned. As a detachment commander of the 72nd Infantry Battalion-AFP, he led his unit in engaging in various coercive acts against the masses in connection with the AFP’s Cafgu recruitment, SOT operations and detachment-building within civilian communities, all in violation of the International Humanitarian Law.

The investigation conducted by a special body constituted by the Merardo Arce Command-SMROC-NPA has established prima facie evidence against POW S/Sgt. Baludoya for the commission of crimes against the people and other violations of International Humanitarian Law. He was indicted for the aforesaid crimes and is set to face revolutionary legal and judicial proceedings. However, in consideration of the appeals made by his family and a number of well-meaning individuals, the revolutionary forces through the Merardo Arce Command-NPA exercised its political authority through unilateral political decision to release POW S/Sgt. Baludoya on humanitarian grounds. POW S/Sgt. Baludoya’s case is being archived. His indictment will be revived and further substantiated and/or expanded if and when POW SSgt. Baludoya continue to commit crimes against the people and the revolutionary forces.

During his detention, POW S/Sgt. Baludoya was accorded humane and lenient treatment in accordance with his status as prisoner of war under the war protocols and the Geneva Conventions strictly observed by the NPA. Party cadres, Red Guerrilla officers and the custodial force composing the Camp for the Administration of Detainees adhered to the NPA Basic Rules of Discipline that included the Three Main Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention, the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAR-HR-IHL), and consistent with the 1996 NDFP Unilateral Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and Protocol 1 of 1977. During his detention, POW S/Sgt. Baludoya’s NPA custodial force provided him utmost medical care, security, food and other basic necessities under guerrilla conditions inside the territory of the People’s Democratic Government.

The arrest, and safe and orderly release of POW SSgt. Baludoya amid the massive militarization in the countryside and the ferocious attacks against the masses and civilians only show that the US-Arroyo regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya 2 is a clear failure while the New People’s Army continue to score political and military victories. The New People’s Army has again taken the high political and moral ground as against the pit-level barbarity and brutality of the enemy.

(sgd) Rigoberto F. Sanchez
Merardo Arce Command
Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command
New People’s Army

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