Rescue efforts for abducted Surigao Norte cops ongoing

Romana: PNP maintains no negotiation policy with terrorist groups like NPA. Contributed photo

Efforts to rescue two policemen held captive by New People’s Army rebels were continuing after the police and military rejected the rebel group’s demand for a troop pullout and ceasefire.

Newly installed Caraga director Police Chief Supt. Noli A. Romana said, search and rescue operations have continued to locate Police Officer 2 John Doverte and Police Officer Alfredo Degamon, who for almost a month now, have been held captive by NPA rebels.

The two, assigned at the Placer municipal police in Surigao del Norte were snatched by communist rebels while manning an outpost in Barangay Bad-as, on Nov. 13.
Romana reiterated the Philippine National Police is not negotiating with the communist group, which was already tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as “terrorists.”

“Our policy is very clear no negotiation with terrorist groups like the NPA . Rescue operations are ongoing to get them back,” Romana said.

“If they are really sincere in releasing them, they can do so and just leave our men anywhere, policemen are trained to survive and know how to get home.”

Rino Colaste, alias Ka Oto, spokesperson of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 16 earlier asked for a 10-day suspension of military and police operations in at least 6 town in Surigao del Norte so they can safely release two policemen from their custody .

Oto said they would only release their captives on condition that the army and police would order their forces to stand down in some villages in the towns of Alegria, Tubod, Placer, Bacuag, Gigaquit and Claver.

“We found out that the two had no direct involvement in the crimes like extrajudicial killing, drug trafficking and extortion activities raised by the people against the Placer police and we see no reason to keep them as prisoners of war,” he said.

Bishop Rhee Timbang of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, one of the third-party negotiators, said the refusal of the police and the military to give in to the rebel’s demand for a troop pullout and ceasefire has set back the release of the two captive policemen.

Instead of adopting a hardline stance, Timbang said the government should take into consideration the safety and welfare of the captives.

The local crisis committee of Surigao del Norte and local third-party facilitators have appealed to President Duterte through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to intervene and issue stand down order. By GD

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