SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/28 August) – The New People’s Army (NPA) released over the weekend six police captives and one civilian employee in three turnover sites in Davao Oriental and Surigao.
Of the six captives, two were turned over by the NPA to Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao in Davao Oriental last Friday while four others were released here on Friday and Saturday.
Last Friday, the NPA turned over to Pacquiao Chief Insp. Arnold Ongachen and PO1 Michael Grande in Barangay Kalapaga, Lupon, Davao Oriental.
Ongachen, police chief of Governor Generoso town was seized by the NPA during a raid on May 29 while Grande of Banay-banay station was arrested on June 19.
Also last Friday, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Richard Yu of the Philippine National Police (PNP) , who was seized in Carmen town in Surigao del Sur on July 5 was released in Tandag City.
On Saturday afternoon, the NPA’s Front 16 freed three police officers and a non-uniformed police worker in Sitio Brazil in the village of Mat-i in Surigao City. The four were captured in a cockpit in the remote village of Cagtinae in Malimono last July 24.
Ka Edroy, political officer of Front 16 of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) turned over to third party facilitators PO3 Jayroll Bagayas, PO2 Caleb Sinaca, non-uniformed police worker Rodrigo Angon, all of Malimono Municipal Police Office and Senior Police Officer (SPO)3 Santiago Lamanilao of Surigao City Police Office.
The third party facilitators who received the freed captives were Bishop Rhee Timbang of the Independent Church of the Philippines and Surigao del Norte Vice Governor Carlos Arthuro Egay Jr., and Surigao City vice mayor Alfonso S. Casurra.
Ka Edroy claimed the four were captured because of their involvement in the illegal drugs trade and illegal gambling in Malimono. He alleged that Sinaca is involved in illegal logging and extortion activities victimizing small-scale miners and grave threats to some farmers.
He said the release of the captives is a gesture of goodwill on the resumption of the peace talks in Oslo, Norway.
“We are now enjoying the temporary ceasefire and we need to work hard to attain the genuine peace,” Ka Edroy said.
In tears, fcamily members embraced the freed persons.
“I thought I would not see him again,” Sinaca’s wife Ritz said while sobbing.
An August 27 press statement signed by Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA in Southern Mindanao Region, said Ongachen and Grande “underwent investigation of their possible crimes against the people and the revolutionary movement.”
Sanchez said Pacquiao, who took to boxing due to poverty, vowed to engage in issues that affect the Filipino people and work with revolutionary forces in order to address the problems.
“We urge him to make good on his commitment by actively deliberating in the Philippine Senate issues on genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization. He can also aid in the immediate and unconditional release of the remaining political
prisoners still in jails across the country,” Sanchez wrote.
Sanchez claimed that less than 24 hours after the release of Ongachen and Grande, “AFP troops are already conducting combat operation and terrorizing civilians in Brgy. Kalapagan.”
Capt. Andrew Linao of the Civil Military Operations of the 701st Infantry Brigade denied the allegations. “Wala po kaming combat operation” (We don’t have combat operations) and only the peace and development outreach program is ongoing, he said.
The Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) have each declared a unilateral ceasefire that took effect at 12:01 a.m. on August 21 and will continue indefinitely as their ceasefire committees “reconcile and develop their separate unilateral ceasefire orders into a single unified bilateral agreement within 60 days” from August 26. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)