DAVAO CITY – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) released two more soldiers as scheduled despite the arrest of one of the commanders of its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), in Agusan del Sur on Tuesday, May 3.
Cesar Renerio, spokesperson of the NDFP in North Central Mindanao region on Monday said that NPA leader Ricado Manili’s arrest will not affect the release of Private First Class Diven Tawide and Pfc. Glen Austria.
On Tuesday afternoon, May 3, the NPAs released Tawide and Austria somewhere in San Luis, Agusan Del Sur. The prisoners were released to Presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte also received six NPA prisoners, including the five police officials and an Army, who were released last week.
Manili, tagged as the fourth most wanted criminal in the Caraga region, was arrested Monday afternoon, May 2, in Barangay Remedios, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.
The police said Manili was accompanied by four men and two women inside a van when they were flagged down by authorities.
Manili, also known as “Ka Joker,” is suspected to be the commanding officer of the NPA’s regional operation command. He has a P4.9 million reward on his head.
On the day Manili was arrested, the NPA has released Senior Police Officer 4 Rene Rombo. He was taken by the NPAs in a checkpoint they put up along the Cagayan de Oro-Butuan highway on April 3.
NDFP: treat Ka Joker well
Renerio said they hope that Manili will be treated the way the NPA’s custodial units treated its Army and police prisoners, especially that Manili has a serious condition of “emphysema of the lungs”.
“The youngsters who accompanied Manili are his relatives who assist in operating the nebulizer and other medical equipment to help him breathe normally when he is sick. If the Caraga Regional Police Office could afford him medical attention, there is no more reason to detain his relatives,” said Renerio.
Ka Joker’s arrest an overkill?
The NDF claims that the government troops planted evidences on Manili using explosives, rifles, blasting caps and other materials “just to make it appear that his arrest was reasonable.”
Renerio said only the resumption of peace talks between the government and the NDF can ensure the speedy release of political prisoners including Manili.
The NPAs said they will release two more prisoners namely, Senior Police Officer 1 Warren Hansel Canales and Police Officer 1 Edwin Panis Cantor after the elections on May 9 elections. (With a report from Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com)