THE four police officers held by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Northeastern Mindanao will be released this week, after Interior Secretary Mar Roxas secured the commitment of the National Democratic Front (NDF) to free them once the military and police agree to a five-day ceasefire in six towns of Surigao del Norte.
Roxas said he won the commitment of the NDF to release the policemen taken into custody by the NPA after a raid on the municipal hall of Alegria town on July 10, and notified Gov. Sol Matugas of Surigao del Norte about it.
He revealed that he took the initiative of seeking the release of Police Officer 3 Vic Calubag Concon, and Police Officers 1 Rey O’niel Morales, Joen Zabala and Edito Roquino from the NDF leadership in Mindanao under Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos.
“We have talked with the NDF about the release of the four policemen since the NDF scrubbed the turnover scheduled for June 25,” said Roxas, adding that “the NDF in North Eastern Mindanao Region (NDF-NEMR) has decided to reduce substantially their conditions for the safe release of the four police officers.”
Roxas said the NDFP-NEMR asked for a 10 day-ceasefire of military and police operations in Surigao City and 14 municipalities in the mainland of Surigao del Norte before the policemen are released.
Eventually, he noted, the NDF reduced the ceasefire period to six days covering only six municipalities in the mainland of Surigao del Norte.
“On Saturday, July 26, the NDF-NEMR informed Secretary Roxas through an emissary that the NPA units holding the four policemen are amenable in releasing their captives if government security forces will agree on a five-day ceasefire covering six towns in Surigao del Norte, namely Placer, Bacuag, Tubod, Gigaquit, Alegria and Claver,” said Matugas.
“Given these developments and in utmost regard of the overriding and paramount consideration on the life and security of the four captured policemen and the welfare of their respective families, the Provincial Crisis Management Committee [PCMC] poses no objection to a temporary ceasefire between government security forces and NPA units for five days covering the above-mentioned municipalities of Surigao del Norte,” she added.
“I am grateful that the timely intervention of Sec. Roxas, who has closely coordinated with the PCMC, has largely contributed to the resolution of the crisis situation in ensuring that the four police officers will be freed safely and reunited with their families the soonest time possible,” Matugas stressed.
Roxas and Matugas also appealed to the NDF to be committed to the pursuit of genuine peace.
They also reiterated they are committed to peaceful means of resolving the issues that had hindered the negotiations between the NDF and the Aquino administration.