PAQUIBATO DISTRICT, Davao City – In a full-packed public gymnasium here, the New People’s Army released its five prisoners of war to presidential front-runner Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on April 25, Monday.
The five POWs were escorted by their custodial force, NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion to the public gymnasium of Barangay Lumiad.
Family members broke into tears upon seeing police officers Police Chief Inspector Leonardo V. Tarungoy, PO3 Rosenie L. Cabuenas, PO3 Rudolph Y. Pacete, PO2 Neil C. Arellano, and PO3 Abdul Azis A. Ali, Jr. who were detained by the NPA for nine days.
Later, Duterte whisked them away in a helicopter and turned them over to the PNP regional headquarters in Camp Catitipan.
Ka Yancy, commander of the NPA’s PBB, said that the five policemen were arrested as part of their standard operating procedure.
“Anyone from the military, paramilitary, or police, who would enter our area of responsibility will be captured,” Ka Yancy said.
According to the NPA Commander, hours before the arrest took place on April 16, the NPA command launched a tactical offensive at the barangay Salapawan in Paquibato. Upon the NPA’s withdrawal from the scene, they said they saw the police officers who came to the area.
“They were clueless that we would be passing the main road.They were caught off guard when we encountered them,” Ka Yancy said.
For Police Chief Tarongoy, being captured by their enemies and turned into a prisoner of war is “part of the risk of their job.”
“There are unexpected things that happen in our unit,” he added.
The NPA did not detain the police officers for long as “they did not commit any heavy crime,” Ka Yancy said.
PCI Tarongoy said that they were treated well, as “they provided us food, sleeping area, and even medicine for our fellow policeman who has diabetes.”
“They (NPA guerillas) are so disciplined, especially if it concerns our welfare,” Tarongoy added.
He said that “here I confirmed that they (NPA) do really have high respect when it comes to human rights, we were served food first. We felt we were burdening them.”
PO3 Ali Jr., a Moro, said that he was thankful he was respected when the NPA prepared a non-pork food for him.
Ali thanked his wife and the church group, who exerted effort for their immediate release. “I was thankful that we can go home now,” he said.
Tarongoy thanked the City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who helped in facilitating the release.
Convenor of the Exodus for Justice and Peace which helped facilitate the release, Pastor Jurie Jaime, expressed gratitude towards the NPA for implementing the orderly release of POWs.
Jurie also thanked Duterte who always stood “for peace.”
Jaime added as armed conflict intensifies, more soldiers and police fall into NPA hands and become prisoners.
Later in the afternoon, the crowd cheered as Mayor Duterte arrived.
Duterte made a speech on resolving poverty and gave assurance that he will give support to the farmers in Paquibato for seedlings subsidy.
He then signed the release orders of the five prisoners-of-war provided by the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the NPA.
Meanwhile, Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front, said they gave liberty to the five police officers”after suspending the investigation conducted by the People’s Democratic Government in Southern Mindanao Region.
Del Mundo said this is “in humanitarian consideration to the appeals of peace-loving organizations acting on behalf of the families and relatives of the Prisoners of War.”
“The entire revolutionary movement in Southern Mindanao and the whole of the Philippines congratulate the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion in their safe custody of the five POWs in the face of the so-called rescue operations of AFP troops,” Del Mundo said.(davaotoday.com)