Home for Christmas: 2 Army soldiers held by NPA freed

MONTEVISTA, Compostela Valley (MindaNews / 21 December)– The Christmas wish of the families of two Army soldiers held by the New People’s Army (NPA) since December 2 has been granted: Pfc Alvin Recante and Cpl. Benjamin Samamo were released by the NPA to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday afternoon.

Duterte arrived here with two helicopters to fetch Private First Class Alvin Ricarte and Corporal Benjamin Enot Samano, both members of the 60th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

FREED. Corporal Benjamin Samano and Private First Clas Alvin Ricarte during their release in Montevista town, Compostela Valley on December 21, 2014. The two were captured during a raid in Sumfru compound on December 2, MindaNews photo by Toto LozanoSamano and Ricarte were captured during a raid by the NPA Guerilla Front 33 at the compound of Sumifru in New Corella town, Davao del Norte province last December 2.

It’s a “Christmas wish come true” for Ruby Samano, wife of Benjamin, and their two children. Ruby, who hails from Tampakan, South Cotabato appealed to the NPA during a press conference on Thursday to release her husband in the spirit of Christmas.

Holding back her tears, Ruby expressed her gratitude that their wish, especially their children’s, was granted.

“Hangyo gyud sa amuang mga anak nga makita nila ilahang Papa” (Our children have been wanting to see their father).

WELCOME HOME. Ruby Samano hugs her husband, Corporal Benjamin Samano after he and Pfc Alvin Ricarte were released by the New People's Army in Montevista town, Compostela Valley on December 21, 2014MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano“Kung wala siguro sya ma-release karon, subo kaayo amuang pasko. Natingala na amuang anak nganong wala na naga tawag ilahang papa. Mag lisod ko ug explain sa ilaha mao nang nalipay gyud ko” (If they had not been released now, it would have been a sad Christmas. Our children would have been wondering why their father has not been calling. I would have found it so difficult to explain to them, that’s why I’m very happy now,” said Ruby.

The soldiers were turned over to Duterte who reiterated the call for the resumption of peace talks between the National Democratic Front and the Government of the Philippines.

“Ang ako ani, sige ko ug yawyaw i-resume ang peace talks. Dugay na man gud kaayo na! Wala’y malipay nga Pilipino, mupatay ug kapwa Pilipino” (I have repeatedly called for the resumption of the peace talks. This has taken so long. No Filipino is happy killing a fellow Filipino), he said.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, December 21, reiterates his call for the resumption of peace talks between the National Democratic Front and the Government of the Philippines during the release in Montevista, Compostela Valley of two soldiers held by the NPA since December 2. in Montevista town, MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
RESUME PEACE TALKS. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, December 21, reiterates his call for the resumption of peace talks between the National Democratic Front and the Government of the Philippines during the release in Montevista, Compostela Valley of two soldiers held by the NPA since December 2. in Montevista town, MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Duterte also expressed his gratitude to the community who hosted the release and asked “muda-og kaha ko dire kung mudagan ko pagka president?” (would I win here if I run for President?) drawing cheers and laughter from among the crowd.

“Dili man pud ko mahimong presidente, wala man ko’y kwarta.Pero kung ako’y presidente kaning gyeraha tapos na. Tapos gyud” (But I will not be President. I have no money. But if I were President, this war would be finished. Really finished), he said. (Toto Lozano / MindaNews)

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