ZAMBOANGA CITY: A policeman taken captive by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on February 9 in Talakag, Bukidnon has been released while the rebels honored two of its fighters who were killed in a clash with government troops in Davao Oriental.
Officials said rebels on Thursday handed over Police Officer 2 Anthony Natividad 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.
He was the third “prisoner-of-war” released by the rebels after 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.
Jorge Madlos, a rebel spokesman, said continuing offensive military and police operations impeded the NPA from releasing their “prisoners.”
He said the NPA is also set to release three other captured soldiers in Bukidnon and in the CARAGA region.
Meanwhile, the NPA honored two of its fighters who were killed in a clash with government troops in Cateel, Davao Oriental.
One soldier was slain and three others were wounded in the fighting, said the rebels on Friday.
Roel Agustin 2nd, a rebel spokesman, said NPA forces attacked military posts and overrun them in the village of Aliwagwag catching soldiers of the 67th and 72nd infantry battalions by surprise.
“An M14 automatic rifle and several military gears were seized by Red fighters while one enemy was killed and three others were wounded during the firefight. Two Red fighters, including Patrick Simeon, were martyred during the engagement,” he said.
Simeon, 20, was a youth activist in Metro Manila before he joined the NPA in 2014, Agustin added.
“The NPA in southern Mindanao region and the revolutionary movement in the region conferred highest honors to the two Red fighters who had bravely given their lives to the cause of the national democratic struggle,” he said.
Agustin also assailed Davao Oriental’s tourism program in Cateel that displaced hundreds of poor families and natives from the area to pave the way for the development of Aliwagwag Falls.
“It has displaced hundreds of peasant and lumad families in Aliwagwag and adjacent villages in the towns of Cateel and nearby Compostela. In the name of the deceitful development program, farms and communities were adversely affected to give way to the privatized tourist destination spots,” he said.
There was no immediate statement from the military on Agustin’s allegations.