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AFP: Rescue ops for 5 abducted soldiers to continue despite threat from NPA

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Members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) belonging to the Pulang Bagani Command celebrate the 40th Founding Anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) somewhere in Davao City on Friday,  December 26, 2008. The NPA, which is the armed wing of the CPP, has been fighting for the establishment of the Marxist state in the Philippines since 1968. AKP Images/ Keith Bacongco

Members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) belonging to the Pulang Bagani Command celebrate the 40th Founding Anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) somewhere in Davao City on Friday, December 26, 2008. The NPA, which is the armed wing of the CPP, has been fighting for the establishment of the Marxist state in the Philippines since 1968. AKP Images/ Keith Bacongco

MANILA  (Mabuhay) — Military operations to rescue the five soldiers abducted by communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Davao City will continue despite a rebel leader’s warning that such efforts will endanger the lives of the captives.

“It is our duty to rescue our personnel,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala on Thursday, four days after the abduction. “We owe it to them.”

Capt. Raul Villegas, deputy public affairs chief of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said about a hundred troops have been dispatched to conduct the rescue operations. The number does not include those who are manning checkpoints.

The five abducted soldiers — Cpl. Emmanuel Quezon, Pfcs. Ronald Gura, Bernie Padilla and Donato Estandia, and Pvt. Marteniano Pasiagas Jr. — were about to buy supplies and coordinate with a non-government organization for an upcoming feeding program when seized Monday afternoon at a rebel roadblock in Pacquibato District.

A sixth soldier, Lt. Neven Canitan, the group’s superior, escaped by jumping from a motorcycle and then into a ravine.

The soldiers were reportedly unarmed when abducted.

NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, alias Kumander Parago, has warned the military against pushing through with the pursuit operations, saying these will only endanger the lives of the five “prisoners of war.”

Zagala dismissed Pitao’s remarks as “propaganda.”

“They [rebels] are insurgent force, they follow no rules, and our troops are in danger because they were abducted by them,” he said. (MNS)

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