MILF releases Marawi police chief
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Hours after his abduction, Police Superintendent Christopher Panapan, police chief of Marawi City, was released by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Von Al-Haq, spokesman of the MILF's Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, said Panapan was released and turned over to members of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), which was set up for the ongoing peace negotiations between the rebel group and the government.
He said the joint ceasefire committee, the provincial government, IMT and the 603rd Brigade were instrumental in facilitating the safe release of Panapan.
Panapan was not harmed in the incident, Al-Haq said.
Earlier, up to 50 members of the MILF abducted Panapan around 12:30 am Friday.
Al Haq said tensions rose when police arrested two members of the local MILF unit for illegal possession of firearms. “Negotiations were ongoing for the safe release of the detained MILF members,” Al-Haq said.
Philippine officials said the alleged MILF members rescued two of their comrades.
Col Glen Macasero, commander of the Philippine Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade, said in Filipino that abductors seized Panapan “to make it difficult for government forces to catch them.”
"On the lighter side, this incident is proof that all ceasefire mechanisms are operating," Al-Haq said.
Peace talks between the government and the MILF have been ongoing. Both panels are meeting again this week in Kuala Lumpur.
Malacañang condemned the abduction and gave assurances it would use its power to ensure the peace process is not jeopardized, and those opposed to the peace talk will not triumph.
"We deplore attacks and we will go after perpetrators," said Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma. "We view it as an act of desperation." – with reports from Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com