Reds vow to free 6 gov’t troopers soon
DAVAO CITY—Communist rebels in Mindanao on Thursday said they were finalizing the release of six soldiers, militiamen and a policeman in their custody even amid fighting on the ground.
Joaquin Jacinto, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Mindanao, identified four of those set to be freed as Police Officer 2 Jerome Anthony Natividad, who was taken captive in Talakag town in Bukidnon province on Feb. 9; Private First Class Edwin Salan, who was held in Alegria town in Surigao del Norte province on Jan. 29; and Sgt. Solaiman Calucop and Pfc. Samuel Garay, who were nabbed in Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat province on Feb. 2.
Jacinto said two other captives would be released by the New People’s Army (NPA) unit holding them. He did not name the captives but the NPA, on Feb. 14, abducted government militiamen Rene Doller and Carl Mark Nucos in Lupon town in Davao Oriental province.
“The respective regions will soon announce the details of the release of these aforementioned prisoners of war,” Jacinto said.
He said the decision to release their captives was a “gesture of support for the resumption of formal talks between the [government] and NDFP.”
In an earlier statement, Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, commander of the military’s 10th Infantry Division, said President Duterte ordered the military to continue the offensive against NPA rebels even as efforts to rescue their captives were continuing.
Valencia said if NPA rebels were serious about talking peace, they should lay down their arms and stop their attacks on government troops and other targets.
Jacinto said the NPA’s termination of its unilateral ceasefire was “necessary” because the military had not stopped its operations against the rebels. —ALLAN NAWAL
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