The New People’s Army (NPA) on Tuesday freed four policemen they held captive for more than two weeks in the town of Alegria, Surigao del Norte.
An Inquirer.net report said a certain Ka Joaquin of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) read the order of release of the four captive cops in an undisclosed area in Agusan del Norte.
Freed were Police Officer 3 Vic Calubag Concon, PO1 Rey O’niel Morales, PO1 Joen Zabala, and PO1 Edito Roquino. According to various media reports, the release order was signed by NDFP peace panel chair Luis Jalandoni.
The group earlier arranged the turnover of the captives to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas.
“As a goodwill gesture to promote the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and as a response to the appeals of the families of the Prisoners of War (POWs), the NDFP is releasing the four POWs recently taken into custody by the New People’s Army,” Jalandoni said in his letter dated July 27, 2014.
The policemen were abducted by the rebels following a raid in a police station in Alegria last July 10.
The freed officers were welcomed by Roxas, DILG Undersecretary Hernani Braganza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, and members of the media.
Following the release of the four policemen, the NDFP declared a ceasefire by the NPA in several towns of Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte until August 1.
“The NDFP is declaring a ceasefire by the NPA for the towns of Claver, Gigaquit, Bacuag, Placer, Tubod and Alegria of Surigao del Norte and Kitcharao, Jabonga and Santiago of Agusan del Norte beginning 12:00 noon of July 27, 2014 until 12:00 noon of August 1, 2014,” Jalandoni said.
“The NPA ceasefire corresponds with the suspension of military and police operations (SOMO and SOPO) issued for the same area and period of time,” he added.