AFP, NPA step up war on YouTube
This soldier is one for the books. Or, for Facebook.
The Armed Forces on Saturday released on YouTube a short video showing the heroism of an Army private who volunteered to be taken captive by communist rebels in Misamis Oriental province to put an end to a gun battle and spare the civilians caught in the crossfire.
It is the military’s answer to the video released more than a month ago by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in northern Mindanao claiming that the soldier, Pfc. Adonis Jess Lupiba, was their prisoner of war (POW).
The military has produced a video to show the sacrifice that Lupiba made, which is based on the accounts of the villagers of Barangay Alagatan, Gingoog City, where the fighting occurred, said Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commanding general of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID) based in Cagayan de Oro City.
Lactao said the villagers wanted the NPA rebels to release Lupiba.
The 4th ID produced the eight-minute video, which has been distributed to journalists.
In the video, the barangay captain, Emelyn Bucio, and the residents talk about how Lupiba volunteered to be taken by the communist rebels who suddenly attacked the community while the residents and soldiers were playing a game of basketball on July 11.
Two villagers, Helen Mae Helodo, 14, and Leticia Cabrera, 52, were wounded. One soldier was killed and eight others were injured in the attack.
Bucio tearfully recalled how Lupiba shouted at the rebels to stop shooting and take him instead as the villagers cowered in fear.
Bucio said the rebels laughed as they kicked and hit Lupiba as soon as they laid hands on him.
Neri Olano and Gemma Apal said Lupiba was a hero for offering to be captured in exchange for the residents’ safety.
A rebel spokesperson claimed NPA responsibility for the raid and said Lupiba was undergoing an investigation. He said the soldier would be freed once it was proven that he had not committed any serious offense against the rebel movement.
In a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer, Allan Juanito, NPA spokesperson, said the raid was a punitive action against the “psywar and intelligence operations” of the military in the community.
“The reactionary soldiers were playing basketball in the village center when they were raided by the NPA,” Juanito said.
Negotiations for release
Lactao said military operations to rescue Lupiba were continuing even as the AFP was supporting the negotiations initiated by local third-party facilitators for the soldier’s release.
In a statement released on Aug. 20, the communist National Democratic Front-North Central Mindanao Region (NDF-NCMR) said it was “grateful” to the facilitators composed of Christian religious leaders and the local crisis committee of Misamis Oriental for “their assistance to the family of prisoner of war Pfc. Adonis Jess Lupiba.”
“He still is under the custody of a New People’s Army unit since July 11. We are hopeful their efforts would succeed in securing the necessary conditions to effect the safe and orderly release of the POW,” the NDF-NCMR said on its website.
It assailed the rescue operation that the military has launched, saying it was delaying Lupiba’s release.
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