Duterte hopes ComVal jail warden to be released by NPA soon
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte expressed hope that Compostela Valley jail warden Jose Mervin Coquilla, who was captured by the communist rebels on December 23, “will be freed shortly.”
The mayor has complained he is fast becoming the “pulot (pickup) boy” of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Duterte, whose help was sought in the release of the captured jail warden, said the NPA has just granted the request of Coquilla’s wife Lijobeth to talk to her husband on the phone.
“Don’t worry, the NPA has committed to observe the Geneva Convention in the treatment of prisoners of war,” said Duterte, after Virgie Allones, provincial administrator of Compostela Valley, had sought his help to facilitate the release.
“Not that I support the NPA but I have known them to observe humanitarian treatment of their prisoners,” Duterte said.
The NPA captured Coquilla and his wife Lijobeth inside their home in Panabo city on December 23, but later released the wife. Duterte was optimistic Coquilla would be “freed shortly,” if he could just talk to key persons of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) holding the jail warden. The New People’s Army is the guerrilla fighting force of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), while the NDFP is the CPP’s political arm.
“I have only talked to the NPA holding him and hadn’t reached the political officers, yet, the one who can make decisions,” Duterte said.
Coquilla’s capture came only a day after the release of two soldiers from the 60th IB, on December 22, which Duterte facilitated. Pfc. Mark Alvin Ricarte and Corporal Benjamin Samano were captured by the NPA in New Corella town of Davao del Norte on December 2 and released after 20 days in captivity.
Duterte complained he has become the NPA’s “pulot (pick up) boy,” for he has often been requested to pick up the prisoners that the NPA has captured.
“You’re turning me into your pulot boy, while you’re always capturing prisoners,” Duterte said.
The mayor said he still did not know the reason why the NPA captured the jail warden although an earlier statement from the Davao del Norte police revealed that the NPA wanted to swap the jail warden with a political prisoner languishing inside the provincial jail.
“I still don’t know why they captured the warden,” Duterte said, “I still have to talk to the people inside, since the one I’ve been talking to were still the armed unit holding him. I’m still hoping to reach the political officers who can make the decision,” Duterte said.
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