NPA to release captive soldier in Surigao Norte

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 April) – A soldier belonging to the 30th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army abducted by the New People’s Army (NPA) abducted last January will be released in Alegria town in Surigao del Norte this Saturday.

Ka Oto, spokesperson of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 16 operating in Surigao del Norte and four towns in neighboring Agusan del Norte, said they will release Pfc Erwin Salan, who was captured last Jan. 29 in Barangay Budlingin in Alegria.

He said their tactical operations against government forces have been halted since last Tuesday noon until midnight of May 5 in the towns of Placer, Tubod, Bacuag, Alegria, Gigaquit and Claver, all in Surigao del Norte, to pave the way for the safe release of the captured soldier.

Lt. Col. Rico Amaro, 30IB commanding officer, said he is glad about the news of Salan’s release soon, noting that the soldier has been in captivity for almost three months now.

But he said that although the NPA has announced it will halt operations, the military could not reciprocate the gesture.

Amaro said he has “no basis to recommend” to his superiors suspension of military and police operations, adding that these are “beyond [his] authority to declare.”

“I request the NPA leadership to define their parameters, else, I will continue my mandated task to secure remote communities,” he said.

Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas and the local crisis management committee have no statement on the issue.

On July 10, 2014, four police officers were captured by the NPA during a raid in the Alegria police station. They were freed after 19 days in captivity.

On November 16 of the same year, two police officers also in Alegria were seized by NPA rebels. They were released to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte three months later in the hinterlands of Gigaquit town in Surigao del Norte. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)