CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – A policeman taken captive by the communist New People’s Army rebels has been freed on Thursday in southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said PO2 Anthony Natividad, who was seized on February 9 in Bukidnon’s Talakag town, was handed over by rebels to a group of third party facilitators led by Bishop Felixberto Calang.
The rebels said Natividad’s release was delayed by continuous military offensives against the NPA and put the life of the policeman in grave danger. Natividad thanked the rebels for treating him well during his captivity.
The policeman was the third prisoners of war released by the rebels. Two army soldiers – Sergeant Solaiman Calocop and Private First Class Samuel Garay – were also freed by the NPA on April 19 in Davao after 75 days in captivity. Both are members of 39th Infantry Battalion seized by rebels on February 2.
The rebels earlier accused the military of sabotaging the release of the “prisoners-of-war” by launching offensives against the NPA.
Jorge Madlos, a rebel spokesman, said continuing offensive military and police operations impeded the NPA from releasing prisoners. He said as early as February 18, the rebels had planned to release the 2 prisoners in time for Easter.
Madlos said the NPA – which has been fighting for many decades now for a separate state – is also set to release three other captured soldiers in Bukidnon province and in the CARAGA region. (Mindanao Examiner)
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