DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 2 Jan) – The Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) recognized the release on New Year’s Day of Sgt. Adriano Bingil, of the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion, as “peace and goodwill gestures” by the New People’s Army (NPA).
In a press statement, Capt. Alberto Caber, chief of EastMinCom’s Public Information Office, said that the military is open to hold peace talks with members of the NPA if they want to return to the folds of the law.
“It is hoped that they will continue with such gestures of peace and goodwill by abandoning the armed struggle and putting a stop to their extortion activities and attacks against development projects,” he said.
Bingil was abducted last September 19 in Brgy. Mahagsay, San Luis town in Agusan del Sur while on his way to send money to his family by the NPA members of guerilla front 88.
He was released to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Felixberto Calang, San Luis Mayor Ronaldo Corvera (Agusan del Sur), in Brgy. Durian, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte.
“The Eastern Mindanao Command is open to talk peace and will accept NPA members who would like to return to mainstream society,” Caber said.
In a separate statement, Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the AFP’s 4th Infantry Division, said the NPAs were pressured by the people of Caraga to release the soldier.
“According to the barangay kagawad who was with Sgt. Bingil when they were flagged down by the NPA while riding a motorcycle, Sgt. Bingil was their target because they want the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to stop their Bayanihan efforts for peace and development in the remote areas of Caraga Region,” he said.
The incident reportedly affected the delivery of some government programs and services to the lumads, Martinez said.
Col. Alexander L Macario, commander of the 401st Infantry Brigade, said in a press statement that once development has set in in a community, the issues being raised by the “NPA bandits … will no longer be relevant.”
“That is why they need to do something, for example, kidnapping our soldier to block or impede these developments from reaching our people,” he added.
After his release, Martinez said Bingil was received by Brig. Gen. Paul T. Atal, acting 4ID commander; Col. Cresente W. Maligmat, 401IB deputy commander; and the medical team for checkup.
Atal said he appreciated the release of their soldier while hoping that the rebel group will resume peace talks with the government through the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Bingil is temporarily confined at Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.