SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/26 Feb) — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Northeastern Mindanao Region (NDFP-NEMR) released Thursday the three policemen in Surigao del Norte who were held captive since late last year.
P01 Jorie M. Amper of Malimono Police Station, and PO3 Democrito B. Polvorosa and PO1 Marichel U. Contemplo of the Alegria Municipal Police Station were reunited with their families in Barangay Lahi, Gigaquit town in Surigao del Norte.
Amper was taken in Malimono town last Nov. 12 while Polvorosa and Contemplo were seized in Alegria town last Nov. 16.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who facilitated the release, received the three policemen from the New People’s Army.
“The ardent request of the families of the 3 POWs that they be reunited with their loved ones is the chief reason for this release. They approached Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to facilitate the release of the three prisoners of war of the NPA-Surigao del Norte noting the mayor’s help in several successful and safe releases of POWs in the Southern Mindanao Region, the most recent was last January 2015. We would like to acknowledge the efforts of and thank Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and the Third Party Facilitators,” Ka Maria Malaya, spokesperson of NDFP-NEMR said in a statement.
“This release is also a gesture signifying the revolutionary movement’s serious intent on pursuing the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Philippines,” she said.
The release of the three policemen had been deferred thrice, first in November in time for the Pope’s visit in the Philippines, the second during the Christmas holidays and the third in the middle of January.
The NDF said the reason for the delays was the refusal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to temporarily withdraw their troops from the target release area.
“The halfhearted efforts of the government’s Provincial Crisis Committee led by Surigao Norte Gov. Sol Matugas failed to give any assurance for the safe release of the POWs,” Malaya said.
She cited the NPA for carrying out the release without hitches despite “the relentless combat operations and Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD) of the military troops since November 2014.”
She added the NPA observed Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions in handling the captive policemen.
The NDFP-NEMR said it issued a unilateral declaration of ceasefire covering the period Feb. 21 to March 2 to ensure the safe release of the captives. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)