(2nd UPDATE) The 4 showed no signs of being maltreated while in custody
RELEASED. The 4 policemen captured and declared "prisoners of war" are released by the NPA on July 29. Photo obtained by Rappler
After more than two weeks in captivity, 4 Surigao del Norte cops were released by members of the New People's Army (NPA) on Tuesday afternoon, July 29.
The 4 cops were captured when NPA guerrillas attacked a police station in Alegria town, Surigao del Norte, on July 10. Police Officer 3 Vic Calubag Concon, Police Officer 1 Rey O’niel Morales, Police Officer 1 Joen Zabala and Police Officer 1 Edito Roquino were on their way to respond to the besieged police station when they were caught by a rebel blocking force.
Days after the attack, the NPA declared the 4 "prisoners of war."
The 4 showed no signs of being maltreated while in custody, an NPA source said. Each underwent a medical check-up before being officially turned over to Philippine authorities at around 3:58 pm, according to the CARAGA Public Information Office.
The 4 were picked up from the NPA camp by Butuan Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Jr., Agusan
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiator Luis Jalandoni in a statement said the release was “a goodwill gesture to promote the peace talks” between the government and the NDFP.
In a statement Presidential Peace Adviser Ging Deles said the release of the 4 policemen was “a potential building block for the resumption of peace negotiations between the two parties.” In December last year, the Communist Party of the
"We reiterate our openness and serious intent to pursue peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF on the basis of a time-bound and doable agenda… We invite the rebels to come to the table to find common solutions to our problems in peaceful dialogue, as Filipinos first and foremost," said Deles.
Reunited with family
Earlier in the day, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas met with the families of the 4 policemen.
Also there to greet the 4 policemen were Roxas, Deles and PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, the DILG said in a statement.
This is the first time in several years that officials from the national government went to the province to help in the release of the POWs.
As a condition for the release, a 5-day ceasefire in several Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte towns was declared by the military and the NPA. The ceasefire began July 27 and will end on August 1.
The National Democratic Front (NDF) in