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Release of Prisoner Of War

Activity Report on Release of Prisoner Of War

PO2 Anthony Natividad

April 28, 2017

Barangay, Duminurog, Talakag, Bukidnon

 

1.     

Background

 

PO2 Anthony Natividad is a police officer at Pangantucan, Bukidnon. He was captured by a checkpoint of the New People’s Army last February 9, 2017.

 

On February 26, 2017 a video clip was posted in youtube  In a video published on YouTube on February  26, 2017, by a user ‘ang kalihukan,’  PO2 Gerome Anthony Natividad has been filmed while giving his message to his family and to President Duterte.

 

Aside from assuring his family that he is just fine, Natividad in the published video appealed to President Duterte asking him to declare a suspension of military operation (SOMO) adding that this will encourage hastening his safe and secure release.

 

He has also called and asked for the chief of Police Regional Office to help him with his appeal to be heard and forwarded to the office of the president at Malacañang Palace.

 

2.     

Third party facilitation

 

On February 20, 2017 in the afternoon, Stephanie, the wife of the PO2 Natividad, together with her sister Ellenmae and In-law Valerie, visited the office of Bp. Felixberto Calang, core group member of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform. Stephanie said that she got advice from a wife of a previously released POW to seek the help of Bp. Calang and the PEPP who serves as third party facilitator to POW releases.

 

 

Since that day PEPP thru Bishop Bert Calang and Archbishop Ledesma has been working together to facilitate the safe and secure release. They publicly call for the release of POW Natividad and also calls for suspension of military operation to provide a climate for the release. They had audiences with 4th ID General Madrigal and General Alvarez. A lobby visit was also conducted to the office of Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno, the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chairperson for Northern Mindanao. They have agreed to come up with a letter entitled “EXPRESSION OF ASPIRATION, which eventually factored in the POW release since the AFP has consistently responded that they cannot issue an official order for Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO). That letter was also agreed by General Alvarez present at that meeting representing General Madrigal who gave his word to honor the letter and will order their troops to stand down.

 

The letter was facilitated to be couriered to the NPA custodial unit who then issued a response statement detailing the areas to be covered by the suspension of operations. The AFP agreed. The date was internally agreed to be set on April 26, 2017. The area of release was not yet disclosed.

 

3.     

Preparations for POW release

 

At this instance PEPP Northern Mindanao then prepared for the eventual release. The family was informed and was instructed to be in Cagayan de Oro the day before April 26, 2017. PEPP took care of their board and lodging.

 

PEPP also held a meeting with the PEPP church leaders in Northern Mindanao at Social Action (SAC) Center conference room at the Arcbishop’s Palace, Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro Roman Catholic Church. The meeting was attended by several priests from the Archdiocese and pastors from the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC). It was facilitated by Fr. Chris Ablon, PEPP Mindanao Coordinator. The agenda of the meeting was (1) Review of the details of the POW; (2) Latest updates on third party facilitation of  POW release; (3) Planning on how we can support the actual day of release. The meeting detailed the logistics for the PEPP contingent who will join in the POW release ceremonies among others. 

 

POSTPONED. On April 25 an advise came that the release will not proceed on the 26th for the reason that the NPA custodial force was able to monitor that there are still troop movements in the concerned areas. So we advised all concerned to stand by for further advised. On the other hand the third party facilitator communicated these to the AFP. On the 26th in the afternoon AN advise came in that the release can already push through on April 27, 2017.

 

4.     

DAY OF POW RELEASE

 

 

Before 6 in the morning we were already gathered at the veranda of the archbishop’s house. The PEPP contingent were about 70 church people. Bishops present were Bishop Bert Calang of Cagayan de Oro, Bishop Mervin Elimanco of Dinagat, Bishop Delfin Callao of Cabadbaran, Bishop Antonio Ablon of Pagadian, Bishop Raul Amorcillo of Malaybalay, Bishop Rudy Juliada of Libertad. ArcBishop Ledesma, Co-chairperson of PEPP welcomed the delegations. Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno and Pangantucan Mayor Pizaro were also present. Atty. Ed Cuaresma, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) regional chairperson was also present. Media personnel were also present.

 

 

 

A briefing for all contingents was facilitated by Fr. Chris Ablon, PEPP Mindanao Coordinator. Mayor Moreno and Mayor Pizaro gave their messages of joy. Bishops also gave their messages.

 

 

The instructions of the conduct of the travel, the security measures and ethics at the ceremony were given by Fr. Chris Ablon.

 

 

 

The group arrived at Barangay Duminurog, Municipality (more or less 30 kilometers from Cagayan de Oro City) of Talakag which was the venue for the release.

 

 

When we arrived the barangay hall was empty. Minutes later the NPA elements were marching on the road towards the venue. PO2 Anthony Natividad was with them. After 30 minutes of setting up. The ceremony proceeded facilitated by two NPAs as emcees.

 

The program began with the a prayers led by Pastor Joshua, member of Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, then the singing of the Internationale led by the NPAs and then the Philippine National Anthem led by a barangay worker.

 

 

 

Bishop Calang, PEPP addressing the crowd…

 

The messages followed composed of the messages from the NDFP spokesperson Ka Malin Mabini, PEPP core group member Bishop Bert Calang from the third party facilitator, RPOC Chairperson Mayor Oscar Moreno of the Local Crisis Committee, Mayor Pizaro, Mayor Silva and NPA Custodial Commander Ka Kiram. The order of release letter signed by NDFP Panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili was read by Ka Malin. The order was then signed by the Ka Kiram, Ka Malin, then PO2 Natividad, Bishop Calang, Mayor Moreno and then the rest of the Mayors present.

 

 

Then PO2 Natividad was officially turned over to the 3rd Party facilitator and the local crisis committee and then to his family. The program closed at around past 12 noon. PO2 Natividad with his family rode to the car of his Mayor (Pizaro) to Pangantucan. The PEPP contingent with the Media contingent drove to Cagayan de Oro City.

 

Mayor Oscar Moreno addressing the crowd.

 

 

Third party facilitators and local crisis committee signing the release order.

 

Third party facilitators and local crisis committee pose with POW Natividad.

 

5.     

News Links

 

2017 – Feb 20, 2017 – Bishop Calls on on government to freeze military operations.  http://mindanaogoldstardaily.com/bishop-calls-on-government-to-freeze-military-operations/

 

2017 – Feb 26, 2017 – POW Natividad appeals to President Duterte.  http://aboutcagayandeoro.com/police-abducted-appeals-duterte/

 

2017 – Apr 29, 2017 - Calang: Oca’s letter factored in release

http://mindanaogoldstardaily.com/calang-ocas-letter-factored-in-release/

 

2017 – Apr 27 – NPA frees police officer in Bukidnon

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/892473/npa-frees-police-officer-in-bukidnon