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DAVAO CITY – Communist rebels on Friday released 2 policemen they held as prisoners of war and handed them over to church leaders in Davao Oriental province in southern Philippines.

The New People’s Army said Chief Inspector Arnold S. Ongachen and Police Officer 1 Michael B. Grande were fetched by representatives from Exodus of Justice and Peace headed by Reverend Jurie Jaime and other politicians.

Rubi Del Mundo, a rebel spokesman, said the National Democratic Front ordered the release of both policemen who were captured this year by the NPA in separate operations in the restive region.

He said the release of the two policemen is a gesture of goodwill for the formal resumption of the peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway which ended on Friday.

“The People’s Democratic Government’s judicial proceedings and investigations into POW Ongachen and POW Grande’s possible war crimes and violation of people’s rights have been effectively suspended in deference to appeals of their families and peace advocates. POW Ongachen and POW Grande have apologized for their violations against the people,” Del Mundo said.

He said the government should also immediately release all the remaining 540 political prisoners languishing in various jails across the country.

“The NDFP expects the immediate release of the remaining 540 political prisoners in compliance of the Duterte government to the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Joint Agreement for Security and Immunity Guarantees. The success of the talks en route to a viable peace accord between the two governments in the Philippines rests in the main on GPH’s—especially the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police and their paramilitaries’—adherence to previous agreements and the serious deliberation of the roots of the civil war. In these objectives, the NDFP and the entire revolutionary movement have been and continue to be firmly resolute,” Del Mundo said.

The NPA has been fighting for decades for the establishment of a separate Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

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