• NPA rebels free 3 policemen ‘POW’

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    The New People’s Army (NPA) on Friday released three police officers they held as “prisoners of war” or “POW” and turned them over to their families and church leaders.

    The rebels said Chief Insp. Arnold Ongachen and Police Officer 1 Michael Grande were fetched by representatives from Exodus of Justice and Peace headed by Reverend Jurie Jaime and other politicians in Davao Oriental.

    Ongachen, Governor Generoso town’s chief of police, was abducted by the NPA in a daring attack on the police station in June this year.

    The NPA claimed he was held and interrogated af ter a packet of shabu was found in his possession.

    Its spokesman, Rigoberto Sanchez, earlier said the attack targeted the municipal police force “based on the people’s demand to punish the protectors of rampant drug trafficking in the area.”

    Rubi del Mundo, rebel spokesman, said the National Democratic Front (NDF) of the Philippines ordered the release of both policemen who were captured by the communist rebels in separate operations.

    He added that the release of Ongachen and Grande is a gesture of goodwill for the formal resumption of the first round of peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway, that 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 added that the government should also immediately release all the remaining 540 political prisoners languishing in various jails across the country.

    Similarly, Supt. Arvin Montenegro, officer in charge of Tandag City Police Office in Surigao del Sur, told members of the media in Camp Crame in Camp Crame in a phone-patch briefing that Police Officer 1 Richard Yu of Carmen Municipal Police Station was freed by his captors in Sitio Hitaob, Barangay Awasian in Tandag City.

    Montenegro said Yu was fetched by his family, Vice Gov. Manuel Alameda, Sangguniang Bayan member Henrich Pimentel and Bishop Modesto Villasanta.

    Yu was abducted by members of the NPA last July 5.

    The police officer was accused of involvement in illegal drug operations.

    Al Jacinto and Anthony Vargas

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