World Bulletin/News Desk
Philippine security forces have launched operations to locate a jail warden abducted by suspected communist insurgents in the country’s south.
Police spokesperson Supt. Antonio Rivera told a local radio station in Davao del Norte province Thursday that provincial public safety teams continued efforts to determine the whereabouts of Jose Mervin Coquilla, warden at the Compostela Valley Rehabilitation Center in Tagum City.
Coquilla was tending to his car wash business near his home in Santo Nino village when four suspected New Peoples Army (NPA) members forced him into a pick-up truck at around 08.10 p.m. (12.10 p.m. GMT) Tuesday.
Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy has reached out to Coquilla's captors by saying, “in the spirit of Christmas, I’m appealing to the abductors to set free the jail warden.”
Coquilla is the second jail warden to be abducted by communist rebels in the southern Philippines since July 2011, when around 200 heavily armed insurgents seized Inspector Erico Llamasarez, a warden at Ozamiz City Jail, and three jail guards.
The recent abduction came a few days after Jorge Madlos, a spokesperson for a leftist umbrella group, warned the National Democratic Front of the Philippines would attack government forces, despite a unilateral presidential order for the suspension of military and police operations against the NPA.
Meanwhile, the Philippine military called on members of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Thursday to abandon the use of armed violence.
“It has been proven that nobody is a real winner in bloody armed conflicts,” Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, army information chief, said in a statement emailed to defense corps reporters.
Earlier, both the military and the rebels had declared a ceasefire to mark the holiday season and the visit of Pope Francis in January.
The NPA -- the armed wing of the Communist Party -- has been waging an insurgency since 1969 that has left tens of thousands of people dead.
Philippine authorities have tagged the rebels as notorious extortionists and blamed them for harassing banana, pineapple and rubber plantations, as well as poultry farms and mining outfits.
President Benigno Aquino II had aimed to reach a peace deal with the communists by the end of his term in 2016, but talks collapsed in February last year due to rebel demands that detained comrades be freed.
The two panels could not reach an agreement on a "special track," which sought to speed up the negotiation process that has been on and off since the presidency of Benigno’s mother, Corazon.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Aralık 2014, 11:57