DAVAO CITY — The New People’s Army has released another video of Police Chief Inspector Arnold Ongachen who was held captive by the communist rebels for almost three months now.

In a video released on Monday, August 22, Ongachen publicly apologized for “keeping” a sachet of shabu after a test buy operation conducted by law enforcement officers. The sachet of shabu was allegedly found by the NPA in his possession during a raid in the Governor Generoso Municipal Police station on May 29.

“Humihingi po ako ng tawad sa masang Pilipino lalong-lalo na kay President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, sa PNP organization at sa CPP-NPA-NDF sa pagkakamali ko pong paghawak ng isang sachet ng shabu na nakuha namin sa test buy na hindi ako dapat ang hahawak nito (I am apologizing to the Filipino people, especially to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, to the PNP organization and to the CPP-NPA-NDF for the mistake I have committed in keeping in my possession a sachet of shabu that we took during a test buy. I should not be the one to keep it),” he said.

Ongachen said that he was confident that he will not use the drug because he is not a drug user.

“I am reiterating that I am not a user, I am not a pusher and most especially, I am not a protector of drug trade,” he said.

The NPA said it targeted the Municipal Police Station based on the people’s demand to punish the protectors of rampant drug trafficking in the area.

The communist group has identified the municipality of Governor Generoso as a “gateway of illegal drug trade in the province.”

Meanwhile, Rigoberto F. Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Operations Command said the NPA unit who was holding Ongachen is now preparing for his safe and orderly release.

“Following the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire of the Central Committee of the CPP and the National Operations Command of the NPA and the reciprocation of the GPH of its own ceasefire, the custodial unit is nevertheless ready for any untoward event that may endanger POW Ongachen and the Red army’s safety,” Sanchez said.

He said that Ongachen “has declared willingness to support the NPA’s campaign against the prevalent drug trade in Governor Generoso and Davao Oriental province.”

He added that the police officer was given a political education by the NPAs. In the same video, Ongachen also called on President Duterte to pursue negotiations with the communists to address the cause of the armed conflict in the country.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao Region ordered on Friday, August 19 the release of Ongachen and another police officer, PO1 Michael Grande.

The two prisoners-of-war are currently in custody of different units of the NPA ComVal Davao Gulf Sub-Regional Command.

In a telephone interview Police Chief Inspector Andrea dela Cerna, spokesperson of Police Regional Office 11 said that they are still finalizing their official statement on the case of Ongachen taking into consideration the ongoing formal talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The formal peace negotiations between the government and NDF resumed in Oslo, Norway on Monday, August 22. (davaotoday.com)

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