Residents in a village in San Luis, Agusan del Sur witness the New People's Army's release of their prisoners, Army Private First Class Glen Austria and Diven Tawide.

Residents in a village in San Luis, Agusan del Sur witness the New People’s Army’s release of its prisoners of war, Army Private First Class Glen Austria and Diven Tawide.

SAN LUIS, AGUSAN DEL SUR – The New People’s Army turned over its two captives to presidential frontrunner and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a village here on Tuesday, May 3.

Private First Class Glen Austria and Diven Tawide were released to Duterte, who arrived at around 4:30 pm in a helicopter.

Tawide and Austria were taken as prisoners of war on April 3 at around 6:00 am in a roadblock set up by the NPA in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.

The National Democratic Front-Central Mindanao region urged a reciprocal gesture on the part of the government with the release of its detained consultants namely Alfredo Mapano, Pedro Codaste and Loida Magpatoc.

On Monday, the NPAs have already released Senior Police Officer4 Rene Rombo of the Kinoguitan Police Station to Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano and religious leaders who acted as local third party facilitators. Rombo was also captured in Talisasyan, Misamis Oriental on April 3.

War protocols

During the turnover ceremony, Duterte thanked the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NDF for following war protocols.

“Nagpasalamat ko sa Communist Party of the Philippines, NDF sa ilang maayong pagsunod sa mga batakang balaud para sa kining gitawag sa Geneva Convention (I thank the CPP and NDF for sincerely adhering to the Geneva Conventions),” Duterte said.

He also expressed gratitude to the NPAs and the members of the local third party facilitators who made the release of the government troops possible.

Duterte reiterated his call for the need of the government to resume peace talks with the NDF, while taking a swipe against Senator Antonio Trillanes who has accused him of amassing hidden wealth.

“I think this is the 50th time that I went up the mountains using a chopper to get NPA prisoners. This is what I’ve been talking about. Trillanes has a big mouth who wants war, war,war. This has been going on for along time. A lot of people have been killed on the side of the government and the revolutionaries, but nothing is happening,” said Duterte.

He said that if he wins the elections he will find a way to resume the peace negotiations.

“Who wants to kill people? Liberating our country from poverty will not be solved by war,” said Duterte.

He added, “Anywhere in the world, war can end by talking. Now we need to resume peace talks so we an achieve an agreement. But before that I need to be president first, if I will not be president, it’s up to you how you will solve that,” he said.

Duterte also said that he is angry with the way the government oppresses the people.

“Ako suko ko sa gobyerno sa ilang opresyon mismo. Ang gobyerno mismo maoy gaduot sa tawo (I am angry at the government’s oppression. It is the government that oppresses the people),” he said.

NDF ready for peace talks

Cesar Renerio, spokesperson of the NDF in North Central Mindanao said as the elections near they pin no hope “that the reactionary elections will solve the problems of the Filipino people.”

“We will advance the national democratic revolution as the decisive form of struggle that will solve all these,” said Renerio.

However, he said that they are still looking forward for the peace talks because this will pave the way to resolve the civil war by addressing its root cause and to achieve a lasting peace.

“Whoever wins as president, we will highlight the release of the prisoners of war as a gesture that the NDF is ready to resume peace talks,” said Renerio.

Renerio said they are also challenging the new president to stand with them against the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the installation of a US military base in Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City. (With reports from Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

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