Communist-led New People’s Army announced they have been finalizing the release of a soldier seized in Alegria, Surigao del Norte along with 5 other prisoners of war – even as military forces continued to pursue them.
In a statement, Joaquin Jacinto, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Mindanao, said the release of Private First Class Edwin Salan, had been decided upon “as a gesture of support towards the resumption of formal talks between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines.”
He identified the three others to be released as PO2 Jerome Anthony Natividad, who was taken captive in Talakag, Bukidnon on February 9; and Sergeant Solaiman Calucop and Private First Class Samuel Garay – both taken as POWs in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on February 2.
“The respective regions will soon announce the details of the release of these aforementioned prisoners of war,” Jacinto said.
Salan, who belongs to the 30th Infantry Battalion of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division was with youth volunteers near the Lumondo falls engaged in a forest clean-up drive when abducted by some 15 NPA rebels in Barangay Budlingin on Jan. 29.
As member of the Army’s Peace and Development Team , Salan was working on environmental protection and preservation efforts in the town.
Search and rescue operations were launched by field units of the 401st and 402nd Infantry Brigades while the Alegria local government unit crisis committee was activated to work for the safe release of the soldier. By CL