NPA rebels abducted ComVal jail warden—police
TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines — Police have pointed to the communist New People’s Army rebels as the abductors of the warden of the Compostela Valley provincial jail in Panabo City, Davao del Norte, on Tuesday night.
The abductors allegedly wanted jail warden Jose Mervin Coquilla to be swapped for a comrade detained at the Compostela Valley Provincial Rehabilitation Center (CVPRC) in Mankilam village here, Chief Insp. Levitico Estay, the Davao del Norte police spokesperson, said.
“Based on our follow-up investigation, the suspects also took the victim’s wife but dropped her off in an area not far from the couple’s house minutes after the kidnapping,” Estay told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by mobile phone.
Supt. Antonio Rivera, spokesperson of the Southern Mindanao region police, said at least four armed persons forced the couple at gunpoint into a Nissan Navara pickup truck with plate number KGK-131 outside their home in Sto. Niño village at 8:15 p.m.
Quoting Coquilla’s wife, Estay said the abductors told her the warden would be freed if one of their comrades jailed at the CVPRC was released. She was unharmed, said Estay.
The police official, however, could not identify the name of the jailed communist rebel whom the warden’s kidnappers wanted freed.
Managed by the provincial government, the CVPRC which shares space with Davao del Norte Provincial Rehabilitation Center (DNPRC) in a sprawling prison complex in Barangay Mankilam here is prison of several communist guerrillas.
Last Dec. 14, government forces captured a ranking NPA rebel in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, who has been wanted for a string of crimes including murder and had a P2.5 million bounty on his head.
Gov. Arturo Uy condemned the abduction and appealed to Coquilla’s captors to release him.
“In the spirit of Christmas, I’m appealing to the abductors to set free Warden Coquilla,” Uy said by text message.
More than 24 hours into the alleged kidnapping, the NPA has not issued a statement regarding the abduction of Coquilla. The abduction happened just hours before the rebels’ unilateral two-day Christmas truce took effect.
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