Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte displayed his towering influence over warring groups in Mindanao when he succeeded to convince the New People’s Army (NPA) to release a Philippine Army soldier held hostage by the communist group for over a month now.
Private First Class Khen Subere, member of the 27th Infantry Battalion, was released to Duterte in Kiamba town, Sarangani province, last Saturday afternoon.
The Davao City mayor flew from Davao City to Kiamba in a small helicopter to receive Subere from his captors.
Duterte turned over the soldier to officials of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City.
Subere was abducted by NPA rebels in April in Barangay Dumangas, T’boli, South Cotabato.
His family appealed for the suspension of military operations against the rebels so Subere could be released.
The Philippine Army, however, rejected the request, prompting Subere’s family to seek the help of Duterte,who was also instrumental in the release of several government men abducted by the NPA.
Earlier, the jail warden of Compostela Valley province, Jaime Coquilla, who was abducted last year was released to Duterte in January.
This was followed by the release of three policemen who were abducted in Surigao del Norte in February this year.
Duterte is considered as one of the few Mindanao leaders who has established open communication lines with the communist rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front’s different factions.
The Davao City mayor, who himself was held hostage by the communist group during the electoral campaign when he first ran for mayor in 1988, has long advocated comprehensive talks with different rebel groups in the country to put an end to years of armed conflict.
“We cannot continue killing fellow Filipinos. We cannot pass on this conflict to the next generation of Filipinos,” he once said.