NPA frees Surigao mayor, escorts

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/18 May) – After 17 days in captivity, a kidnapped town mayor in Surigao del Sur was finally released by suspected New People’s Army rebels without “condition” Monday evening somewhere in the Diwata mountain range, police reports said.

The report said outgoing Lingig Mayor Roberto M. Luna Jr. and his four police and military escorts were released by the NPA in the forests between Lingig and the municipality of Boston town of Davao Oriental, near the area bordering Agusan del Sur and Compostela Valley provinces.

The released escorts were identified as PO3 Allan Dapitanon, PO2 Joseto de Castro, both of the Lingig municipal police station; and Army personnel Pfc. Junrey Abao and Pfc. Arnel Dizon, who were both temporarily detailed as security escorts of Luna.

Luna and his escorts were flagged down by suspected NPA rebels early morning on May 5 in Pasian, Monkayo town in Compostela Valley while en route to Davao City. The NPA has accused Luna of creating his own private army.

After having served three successive terms as mayor, Luna ran and won as Lingig’s vice mayor.

Senior Supt. Julieto M. Diray, Surigao del Sur police director, said the hostages were released around 6 p.m. Monday to the Surigao del Sur Crisis Management Committee (SCMC). The freed hostages and the committee members reached Lingig town around 1 a.m. today.

Diray said Luna and his four security escorts were received by the SCMC members led by Surigao del Sur provincial administrator Johnny Pimentel, who has been elected governor replacing his brother, Vicente Pimentel.

“They were released unharmed and there was no mentioned ransom during the negotiation,” Diray was quoted as saying in the police report reaching the police regional office here.

Luna and his escorts are now undergoing medical check up at a Lingig medical clinic.

Chief Supt. Lino D. Calingasan, Caraga’s police regional director, has reportedly ordered his chief of plan and operations officer, Senior Supt. Nestor M. Fajura, and Diray to study the exact charges to be filed in court against the abductors. (Alden Pantaleon Jr. / MindaNews)