DAVAO CITY: After 28 days in captivity, Compostela Valley Provincial Jail warden Jose Mermen Coquilla finally walked free from his captors, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The release, according to Rubi del Mundo, a spokesman for the New People’s Army, is for humanitarian and political reasons. Coquilla’s wife is a cancer patient and has continuously asked the rebels to let her husband go.
The release was also a form of a birthday gift as Coquilla celebrated his birthday a day before he was allowed to walk free at a hinterland village.
“It is a gesture of compassion and mercy — a message that is reverberating in the country with the recent visit of Pope Francis,” Del Mundo added.
It was reported that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was also instrumental in the release of the captive who was taken by the NPA on December 23 for his alleged inaction to the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the correctional facility.
Del Mundo also said that the release was to “help propel the immediate resumption of the government of the Philippines and NDFP peace negotiations.”
The People’s Court, which ordered the warden’s arrest, has shelved the cases.
“The release of respondent Coquilla, however, does not preclude the revolutionary forces from subjecting him to future arrest and detention if the masses file new charges against him and if he is found to be unremorseful,” Del Mundo said.