DAVAO CITY — Mayor Rodrigo Duterte turned over the five police police officers released by the rebels who held them captive to Police Regional Office (PRO) – 11 Director Manuel Gaerlan at Camp Quintin in Catitipan, this city at past 4 p.m. Monday.
The New People’s Army (NPA) earlier released the chief of police of Paquibato and four of his officers to presidential candidate Mayor Duterte in Purok 1, Barangay Lumiad, Paquibato District.
They were released after Duterte on Sunday night sealed the negotiation with the NPA rebels holding Paquibato Chief of Police C/Inspector Leonardo Tarungoy, PO3 Rosenie Cabuenas, PO3 Rudolph Pacete, PO2 Neil Arellano, and PO3 Abdul Azis Ali, who were all taken by the rebels following an attack of the 72nd Infantry Battalion CAA (Civilian Armed Auxiliary) detachment on April 16 in Sitio Quimanao, Barangay Salapawan, Paquibato District.
Their release also followed a video released by the NPA with PO3 Pacete asking his family not to worry as they have been treated well during their 10-day captivity.
At the same time, Duterte emphasized that he is not left-leaning although he could talk the same language as that of the communists.
“I am not (a communist)…I do not subscribe to their armed struggle,” he said, in answer to some claims that he supports the NPA rebel group.
When asked if there was a demand from the rebels in exchange for the release, Duterte implied there was none adding that the rebels owe him a lot.
During the release, the mayor said the rebels admitted to have abducted the policemen because they were sent to the place as reinforcement of the Army.
He said he reminded the rebels of their “gentlemen’s agreement” to spare the police from any form of armed encounter because they have their police work to fulfill in ensuring the safety of the civilian residents against criminality. He added that investigating an incident such as the attack of the CAA detachment, is part of police work.
“All is well that ends well,” Duterte said in his message during the turnover.
With this development, the mayor urged the police to continue with their work. “Do not be afraid to go to the mountains,” he stressed.
He, however, advised police officers to be extra careful next time. “Armado talaga mga yan (They are really armed). Just introduce that you are there to investigate an incident. Keep calm you are not fighting an appropriate enemy,” he said.
Duterte recalled he was also once a victim of NPA atrocity when the rebels drove into a deep ravine a government equipment for road projects in Paquibato during the early years of his term as mayor. He said it cost the city some Php2 million. He also cited an incident when he was nearly killed by the rebels.
Meanwhile, PNP Director Gaerlan called the police officers “heroes” because they were abducted while in the performance of their duty. He also thanked Mayor Duterte for facilitating their release.
He condemned the incident and declared they will not be cowed by threats of armed groups to fulfill their duty.
The turnover was capped with the mayor allowing the police officers to go on vacation for needed rest. He also promised them a vacation to Hongkong with their family after the elections. Lilian Mellejor/PNA/northboundasia.com