Communist rebels to release 4 captives
(UPDATE) Communist rebels are set to release four captives, the chair of the rebel negotiating team said Wednesday.
National Democratic Front (NDF) panel chair Fidel Agcaoili said in a press conference in the Netherlands that the New People's Army will release the following police officers and soldiers:
1. PFC Edwin Salan (taken captive in Alegria, Surigao del Norte on January 29);
2. Sgt. Solaiman Calucop (taken captive in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on February 2);
3. Pfc Samuel Garay (taken captive in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on February 2); and
4. PO2 Jerome Natividad (taken captive in Talakag, Bukidnon on February 9)
In a joint press conference with the rebel panel, chief government negotiator Jesus Dureza called the gesture "well appreciated and well received."
In a report by ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau's Danny Buenafe, the government also announced that it would release 23 political prisoners, whose names will be released later.
The government panel said some of the prisoners were being released through pardon, others on humanitarian grounds.
As to those with pending cases in various courts, Dureza said: "...[W]e have to deal individual with the different courts."
The government has yet to release a timeline on when the political prisoners may be expected to set free.
Leftist rebels last month freed two more of their captives, paramilitary Rene Doller and paramilitary Carl Mark Nuco, who were captured in Lupon, Davao Oriental on February 14.
The release of the prisoners is one of the conditions President Rodrigo Duterte set for the formal negotiations between the government and the NDF to continue.
Peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels just resumed this week after a collapse in February. Brokering peace with the rebels is among President Duterte's priorities.
"Just rejoice over what you see as we go along. Rejoice with us and rejoice with the Filipino people, because all of these is not just for the NPA and the government, it's for the people actually," Dureza said.