MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/19 April) – The New People’s Army released Wednesday seven government militiamen captured by the rebel group in two separate incidents this week, the National Democratic Front-Mindanao said in a statement emailed midnight Thursday.
Released were Danny Sevillejo, Evangeline Cabodbod, Leonardo Sevillejo, Mario Lepanda, Toloy Lepanda, Rejoy Francisco and alias Janjan, all members of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit.
Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, NDF-Mindanao spokesperson said the captives were released after investigations showed that they had not committed “serious offense against the people and the revolution” and for humanitarian reasons.
Cabodbod and the two Sevillejos were captured Sunday in Sitio Greenfield, Barangay Sta. Juana in Tagbina town, Surigao del Sur by the NPA’s Front 14, Madlos said.
The rest of the Cafgus were captured Monday when guerrillas under Front 88 mounted a “checkpoint” at Don Alejandro, San Luis, Agusan del Sur, he added.
The rebel leader said Toloy Lepanda was only 14 when he was recruited into the Cafgu.
The NPA and the military had accused each other of using children in the armed conflict that has remained unresolved after over 40 years.
Protocol 2 to the Geneva Conventions, the law governing internal armed conflicts, as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibit the recruitment into armed forces of children below 15 years of age.
“The release of four Cafgus in Front 88 was attended by representatives and officials from the local government unit, religious, other personalities and the media. Under safe conditions, the POWs (prisoners of war) were turned over to them, including the minor,” Madlos said.
“The release of the three Cafgus in Front 14 was witnessed by [Surigao del Sur] Gov. Johnny Pimentel and other officials of the LGU, the religious, local personalities and the media. The turn-over ended successfully with no untoward incidents,” he added.
The statement further said that Front 3 was still holding two policemen, PO1 Ronal Allan Munez and PO1 Nemuel Espana. (MindaNews)