DAVAO CITY – The military confirmed on Friday, February 15, the release of 6 militiamen abducted by the New People's Army during an attack at a government detachment in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, on December 19, 2018.
A total of 15 militiamen and soldiers were taken as captives by the rebels in that attack
Lieutenant Colonel Ezra Balagtey, the spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) based here, said the rebels freed the government men on Valentine's Day, nearly two months after being forcibly taken They were all militiamen.
Released were Jurian Gaviola; Marson Iligan; Bienvinido Lamion; Eddie Tindoy; Sanny Malobay; and Hermito Iligan, all members of the Auxiliary Unit of the Citizen Armed Auxiliary (CAA).
Based on a report by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, the 6 militiamen were handed over to IFI Bishop Delfin Callao Jr. around 4 pm in Barangay San Juan in Baguyan City.
Callao, who served as third party facilitator for the release of the militiamen, was accompanied by Agusan del Sur Vice Gov. Samuel Tortor and 3 provincial board members, including Santiago Cane Jr. The families of the freed militiamen were also present.
Negotiations continued for the remaining captives.
The 6 militiamen were then turned over to the Army's 4th Infantry Battalion around 6 pm, Balagtey said. They are now undergoing medical checkup and will be debriefed.
Major General Felimon Santos, EastMinCom commander, credited the military's “relentless operations” as the main factor in the release of the militiamen.
He said the military would continue with its operations to secure the remaining captives.
“Our units in the area are continuously conducting military operations to rescue the remaining troops who are still being held and used as human shields and propaganda subject by the NPA,” Santos said. – Rappler.com