Safe and orderly release of Agusan 16 POWs affirms NDFP’s commitment to pursue a just and lasting peace


The safe and orderly release of the last batch of 16 prisoners of war (POWs) held in captivity for two months by the New People’s Army (NPA)-Agusan del Sur affirms the revolutionary movement’s standing policy and commitment to a just and lasting peace.

It is a concrete measure of goodwill on the part of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)-Northeastern Mindanao Region in support of the resumption of formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The Agusan 16 POWs – two AFP regulars and 14 Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) members – were arrested in a raid conducted by the NPA on an Army/CAA detachment under the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur on December 19, 2018, the same day that Congress passed the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Today’s safe and orderly release is the third and last in a series of releases made by the NPA in Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte on February 14 and February 18, respectively.

The Agusan 16’s safety, welfare and human rights were guaranteed in strict compliance with the NPA’s basic rules on treatment of POWs and in accordance with the international protocols of war and provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The POWs’ statements and personal testimonies upon release confirm the fair and just treatment they experienced while under the custody of the NPA.

The safe and orderly release of the Agusan 16 is also a clear and present recognition of the revolutionary movement’s status of belligerency despite and in spite of continuous military attacks on the NPA and its mass base in the region and the ongoing counter-revolutionary and anti-people martial law and all-out war in Mindanao.

Countless complaints have been received by the NDFP-NEMR of the AFP’s fascist attacks and human rights abuses, especially in Lumad communities: indiscriminate military bombardments, military occupation of schools and communities, theft of farm animals,

rape and molestation of women and children, abductions and extrajudicial killings of activists and suspected members of the NPA.

The ongoing martial law in Mindanao has also further emboldened the military, police and their paramilitary units to wage a more ruthless and fascistic attack on the revolutionary movement and the people.

In line with the safe and orderly release of the Agusan 16, the NDFP-NEMR calls for an end to intensified attacks on Lumad and peasant communities, harassment, vilification of leaders and EJKs. It also condemns in strongest terms recent attacks on the media, lawyers, church people and other progressive forces. ###

Safe and orderly release of Agusan 16 POWs affirms NDFP's commitment to pursue a just and lasting peace