DAVAO CITY—In a short ceremony somewhere in Paquibato District here on Wednesday, the communist New People’s Army (NPA) freed five government soldiers who had been held captive by the guerrillas for 45 days.
Turned over to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte were Cpl. Emmanuel Quezon, Pfc. Vernie Padilla, Pvt. Marteniano Pasigas, Pfc. Ronald Gura and Pfc. Donato Estandian, who were captured at a checkpoint manned by NPA guerrillas in Paquibato.
‘Will miss prisoners’
At least three handguns and a grenade were also confiscated by the NPA.
Ka Yang-Yang, a 19-year-old female guerrilla and a member of the guerrillas’ custodial unit, said she will “also miss our prisoners because we are already considering them as our friends.”
“We used to share jokes with them,” Ka Yang-Yang said.
During the release, Quezon said they were treated fairly and were not hurt by the guerrillas.
“We were not hurt, not even a pinch. We were treated nicely,” Quezon said.
Rebel leader Leoncio Pitao, of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Battalion, said the captured soldiers participated in antipeople activities including harassment, but were still released in consideration of the appeals of their families and peace advocates.
“We granted the release for humanitarian reasons and as a response to the appeals of their parents and relatives,” Pitao said.
Duterte expressed gratitude to the NPA for respecting protocols in handling prisoners and for releasing the soldiers. Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao