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PHILIPPINES Rebels want 25m peso for release of miner’s son

Measures taken to communicate with NPA for hostage’s release

By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief
July 6, 2012

Manila: Communist rebels asked for 25 million peso (Dh2.08 million) for the release of a miner’s son and two employees in the southern Philippines, a local paper has reported.

The communist New People’s Army, the armed wing of the 47-year old Communist Party of the Philippines, demanded the ransom to free Christopher Ocite, operations manager of VPO Mining; Gani Altaya, VPO’s assistant operations manager; and Joel Jayuma, VPO’s security chief, Agusan del Sur ViceGovernor Santiago Cane Jr told the Inquirer.

 

A provincial management committee, led by Mayor Jose Cuyos, convened also on Friday to handle the hostage crisis, said Maj Eugenio Julio Osias IV, spokesman of the Cagayan de Oro-based Philippine Army.

Members of the committee have tried to communicate with NPA members to negotiate for the release of the hostages, Osias said.

Other military officials have not heard about the ransom demand, Osias admitted.

The ransom demand was a sign that the NPA has degenerated to banditry, Col Romeo Gan, commander of the Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade, also told the Inquirer.

Sources said earlier that the NPA demanded for K3 light machine-gun and an Armalite rifle in exchange for the release of the hostages.

Disguised as soldiers, about 30 NPA fighters entered VPO Mining’s office for an inspection, but announced instead a raid, disarmed the security guards, carted away 17 firearms, and took three hostages as they left VPO’s office in Bayugan village, Rosario town, Agusan del Sur last June 28.

A tribal chieftain and a policeman were hurt when NPA fighters attacked a convoy of police and army troops that were escorting provincial officials who visited Katipunan village in Veruela town, also in Agusan del Sur last June 27.

The Philippine government and the communist National Democratic Front (NDF), the umbrella of the CPP-NPA, have been holding on and off peace talks since 1992.

The NDF refused to return to the negotiating table in 2004, after the Philippine government did not stop the United States and the European Union from including the CPP-NPA in the list of foreign terror groups.

Since then, peace talks remained informal.

Formal talks resumed only in 2010, after the victory of president Benigno Aquino.

Norway has been brokering the long-running peace negotiations.

 

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