Rebels release abducted soldier to Duterte on New Year's Eve
MANILA, Philippines – The New People's Army finally released its captive soldier on Thursday, December 31, or 102 days after keeping him as prisoner of war.
The rebel group handed over Corporal Adriano Bingil of the Army's 26th Infantry Battalion to Davao City Mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte in Barangay (village) Durian, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte.
Present during the turnover were San Luis, Agusan del Sur Mayor Ronaldo Corvera, Agusan del Norte Representative Lawrence Fortun, and Iglesia Filipina Independente Bishop Felixberto Calang.
Bingil, a member of the battallion's Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) team, was abducted on September 19 in Barangay Mahagsay, San Luis, Agusan del Sur en route to a remittance center.
He was then riding a motorcycle together with a barangay official whom the NPA released immediately.
NPA's "Commander Joker" said the release was made "on humanitarian grounds in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to International Humanitarian Laws."
Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division, said Bingil suffered from "anxiety and anguish," and physical and mental fatigue at the hands of the NPA.
After his release, the soldier was temporarily admitted to Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City to recover.
"What the NPA did is plain kidnapping and it is a crime punishable by law. Nevertheless, we appreciate the gesture of them returning our soldier, hoping that they are projecting a renewed faith in peace, and aspiring to resume the peace talks with the government through the NDF," according to Brigadier General Paul Atal, acting commander of the 4th Infantry Division.
Bingil was welcomed by his wife, Jenny, and their two kids.
"Im happy we will be a family as we welcome the new year," Jenny said. – Editha Caduaya and Bobby Lagsa, Rappler.com