A six-member Church-led team has convinced leaders of the Communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) in the Netherlands to order the release of four military and police officers abducted in the Philippines.
    The team, led by Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao and Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz of Tagum, had sought the release of the four on humanitarian grounds. Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison told a television news program that the release of the "prisoners" was a "sort of clemency" as part of the year-long celebration of the 30th foundation anniversary of the CPP and the party-led New People's Army (NPA).
    The team went to Europe at the NDF's invitation without the support of President Joseph Estrada. The president suspended two years of peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF after the NPA took Brigadier General Victor Obillo, commander of the Army's 55th Engineering Brigade, and his aide Captain Eduardo Montealto captive on 17 February Estrada said he would not negotiate with the NDF until the officers were freed, and he ordered "rescue operations" involving the deployment of some 1,800 infantrymen to Mindanao The NPA said a "people's court" had convicted the army engineers of misappropriating land.

UCA 29/03/99 10:36:48


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