The communist New People’s Army rebels today declared a four-day truce in parts of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces in the southern Philippines to pave the way for the release of a soldier and a police officer who have been held captive for a month.
Rubi del Mundo, a spokesman for the rebel group in the southern part of Mindanao, said the military should also declare a truce to facilitate the release of captives Jezreel Maata Culango of the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion, and Ruel Pasion, a policeman from Davao del Norte.
The rebels subjected Culango and Pasion to a series of interrogations for their role in "counter-revolutionary and anti-people military operations" in the area, del Mundo said.
He said the investigating body formed by the rebel group found the soldier and the policeman to have committed lesser offenses.
However, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman for the army's 10th Infantry Division, said there is no need for the military to declare a truce because it has conducted no offensive operations against the rebels since December.
He said government forces did not even launch pursuit operations against the rebels after the abduction, as troops were preoccupied with relief operations for victims of Typhoon Bopha.
"What we are doing now is a peace and development outreach program,” he said.