NDF releases cop in MisOr; says more captives to be freed this month

LAGONGLONG, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/02 May) — The National Democratic Front on Monday released an ailing policeman to Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Emano and church leaders, nearly a month after he was captured by New People’s Army rebels.

The NDF said the release of Senior Police Officer 4 Rene Rombo is the first of a series of releases of soldiers and policemen captured by the NPA when it staged simultaneous roadblocks in five towns in three provinces in Northern Mindanao last month.

Ka Maya, of the NPA Eastern Misamis Oriental North Central Bukidnon Sub-regional Committee, said they are also releasing before the May 9 elections Privates First Class Diven Tawide and Glen Austria of the 23rd Infantry Battalion who were captured in Carmen town, Agusan del Norte last April 3.

Ka Maya said they have also scheduled for release Senior Police Officer 1 Warren Hansel Canales and Police Officer 1 Edwin Panis Cantor after the May 9 elections.

She said this is their “strong” message to whoever becomes the next President to resume peace talks with the communist rebels.

“We have to talk to end the war. The talks should focus on the roots of our rebellion,” she said.

Rombo appeared frail when he was met by his wife, Vilma, and their eldest daughter, Novarie, during a tearful reunion in Barangay Banglay, some 10 kilometers east of Lagonglong town.

Emano, Bishop Felixberto Calang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Monsignor Elmer Abacahin of the Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese came to accept the release of Rombo from the NPA Eastern Misamis Oriental North Central Bukidnon Sub-regional Committee.

“I was treated well by my captors. At first, I thought the NPA rebels were bloodthirsty and very bad people. I was wrong, they even gave me more food than what they were subsisting,” Rombo told reporters.

“They treated me like a guest not their prisoner-of-war,” he added.

NPA rebels captured Rombo when they set up a roadblock along the Cagayan de Oro-Butuan highway in nearby Talisayan town last April 3.

Rombo said psychological stress and frequent long walks in the rugged mountain terrain caused his blood pressure to go up during his 29 days of captivity.

“His blood pressure went up to 170 over 60 especially on the second night of his captivity. Our medics were constantly watching his condition,” Ka Maya said.

She said their medics was able to stabilize Rombo’s health condition because they have ample medicines.

The release of Rombo came after Emano convened a local crisis group composed of Bishop Calang and the Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese .

Emano said Rombo’s wife came to his office a day after the policeman was captured by the rebels.

For their part, Abacahin said they agreed to be the intermediary for humanitarian purposes.

“The government and the NPA are at war against each other. We felt there is a need for some group to stay neutral so peace can be pursued,” he said.

This is the third release of captured soldiers and policemen facilitated by the interfaith group in Cagayan de Oro. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)