RELEASED. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Alan Purisima talks to the 4 policemen who were abducted by the NPA on July 10 and released on Tuesday, July 29. Photo courtesy of the DILG
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – After more than two weeks in captivity, 4 Surigao del Norte cops were released by members of the New People's Army (NPA) on Tuesday afternoon, July 29.
The 4 cops were captured when NPA guerrillas attacked a police station in Alegria town, Surigao del Norte, on July 10. Police Officer 3 Vic Calubag Concon, Police Officer 1 Rey O’niel Morales, Police Officer 1 Joen Zabala and Police Officer 1 Edito Roquino were on their way to respond to the besieged police station when they were caught by a rebel blocking force.
The 4 showed no signs of being maltreated while in custody, an NPA source said. Each underwent a medical check-up before being officially turned over to Philippine authorities at around 3:58 pm, according to the CARAGA Public Information Office.
The 4 were picked up from the NPA camp by Butuan Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Jr., Agusan del Norte Governor Angel Amante-Matba, and members of the media, among others. The group arrived in Kitcharao town past 5 pm Tuesday, according to one of Mayor Amante's aides.
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiator Luis Jalandoni in a statement said the release was “a goodwill gesture to promote the peace talks” between the government and the NDFP.
In a statement Presidential Peace Adviser Ging Deles said the release of the 4 policemen was “a potential building block for the resumption of peace negotiations between the two parties.” In December last year, the Communist Party of the Philippines announced it was giving up on peace talks with the Aquino administration.
"We reiterate our openness and serious intent to pursue peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF on the basis of a time-bound and doable agenda… We invite the rebels to come to the table to find common solutions to our problems in peaceful dialogue, as Filipinos first and foremost," said Deles.
Also there to greet the 4 policemen were Roxas, Deles and PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, the DILG said in a statement.
REUNITED. A captive policeman is reunited with his family after a simple welcoming ceremony by authorities for the policemen at the Kitcharao Elementary School in Agusan del Norte, Mindanao on July 29, 2014. Photo courtesy of the DILG
This is the first time in several years that officials from the national government went to the province to help in the release of the POWs. Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte has personally facilitated almost all releases of cops and soldiers captured by the NPA in Mindanao in the past few years.
As a condition for the release, a 5-day ceasefire in several Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte towns was declared by the military and the NPA. The ceasefire began July 27 and will end on August 1.
The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Northern Mindanao earlier said the cops would be investigated and released if proven innocent of participating in any “anti-people and counterrevolutionary” activities. – with reports from Karlos Manlupig and Bea Cupin/Rappler.com
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