10-day truce in NPA area allowed cops’ release
GIGAQUIT, Surigao del Norte–A 10-day truce brokered by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had paved the way for the release by communist guerrillas of three police officers that the guerrillas had been holding captive for more than three months.
The New People’s Army (NPA) turned over PO1 Jorie Amper, PO3 Democrito Polvorosa and PO1 Marichel Contemplo to Duterte on Thursday in the hinterland village of Lahi here.
Rhee Timbang, Iglesia Filipina Independiente bishop, was the lead negotiator for the release of the policemen. It was Duterte who brokered a 10-day ceasefire with the military that paved the way for the release.
The policemen were captured by NPA guerillas in separate instances last year. Amper was abducted in Malimono town on Nov. 12 while Polvorosa and Contemplo were captured in Alegria town on Nov. 16.
Ka Oto, spokesperson of the NPA’s Front Committee 16, read the release order, which was signed by National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chair Luis Jalandoni, that freed the three policemen.
A day before the release, Duterte told reporters in Davao City that although Surigao del Norte was “too far,” and was beyond his jurisdiction, he was facilitating the release upon the request of families of the victims.
Maria Malaya, spokesperson of the NDFP in northeastern Mindanao, said in an e-mail statement that the release of the officers, originally set in November last year, had been deferred thrice because of the refusal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to temporarily withdraw soldiers in the target release area.
The first schedule of the release was in November last year. A planned release during the Christmas holidays and another during Pope Francisí visit to the country were also canceled.
The NDFP statement said the families of the policemen “approached Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to facilitate the release noting the mayor’s help in several successful and safe releases of POWs (prisoners of war) in Southern Mindanao.”
Matosalem Polvorosa, wife of PO3 Polvorosa, said the family decided to seek help from Duterte after talks between rebels and the local crisis team, headed by Gov. Sol Matugas, broke down thrice.
Duterte also called for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the NDFP, but repeated his pitch for federalism as the most practical solution to the Moro and communist rebellion in the country. Danilo V. Adorador III with a report from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
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