• Rebels release Agusan del Sur village official

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    A village official snatched by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels last month was freed on Wednesday evening following 10 days of captivity in a remote village in Agusan de Sur, police reports said on Friday.

    Reports at the Philippine National Police operations center in Camp Crame said that village official Edgar “Atug” Bantuasan was freed by the rebels at around 8 p.m. on Wednesday in front of the village hall of Barangay Johnson, Loreto.

    The reports said that Bantuasan release was secured after lengthy negotiations, initiated by the local crisis management committee, between NPA rebels and tribal leaders in Loreto town.

    Bantuasan was received by Robert Casal, village chairman of Barangay Johnson, who immediately brought him to Loreto Municipal Police Station to be reunited with his family, the reports said.

    Reports said that Bantuasan told the authorities that he was seized by rebels under a “Ka Rebo” of Guerilla Front 3 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

    The village official said that he was hogtied and blindfolded by his captors and was constantly under guard by at least six rebels armed with AK-47 assault rifles, the reports said.

    Reports added that Bantuasan told authorities that he was released by the NPA on the condition that he will no longer support any military operations in the area.

    Earlier reports said that Bantuasan was suspected by rebels as a ‘military informant’ and abducted him last June 30 when 70 gunmen swooped down on his village at Barangay Santa Teresa also in Loreto.

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