NPA releases cop to Duterte

COMPOSTELA VALLEY, Philippines - Wearing a plain white shirt, policeman Ruben Nojapa walked beside Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a simple ceremony of his release after weeks of captivity inside a guerrilla zone in the mountains of Mawab in this province.

Nojapa was seized at a checkpoint manned by New People's Army rebels in Nabunturan town last March 18.

The National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao Region said Nojapa was released after investigation proved that he was not involved in activities considered anti-people. 

The release was also done as a humanitarian gesture from the revolutionary movement, said NDF-Southern Mindanao spokesperson Rubi del Mundo. 

Nojapa cried and hugged his wife and family when they met inside the guerrilla zone. "I am thankful to the NPA for this order of release. I was not hurt. Not even a pinch," Nojapa said. 

Nojapa shared that he was also allowed to celebrate his 51st birthday inside the camp last March 28.  "It was okay. We had food," Nojapa said.

Duterte also thanked the revolutionary movement for the safe release of Nojapa.  "I thank the Communist Party of the Philippines for looking at the case fairly," Duterte said. 

Duterte, who is running for mayor of Davao City in May, has been a consistent negotiator and facilitator for NPA captives.  "[To follow] government protocol, I will bring Nojapa to his superiors," Duterte said. 

Various groups and the Nojapa family earlier appealed to the government to declare a temporary ceasefire to ensure the immediate and safe release of the captive. 

However, Lt Gen Jorge Segovia, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the communists would release Nojapa with or without the suspension of military operations. 

Having a captive inside a camp is a burden for the NPA, Segovia said. 

As Nojapa said his goodbye to his former captors, he said he wanted to spend time with his family.

But because of what happened to him, Nojapa said he is planning to consult his family on the possibility of retiring early from the police. - Rappler.com