Duterte tells NPA: Release kidnapped soldiers

DAVAO CITY -- Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio asked the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Tuesday to immediately release the five soldiers they kidnapped in Paquibato District last Monday afternoon.

"It doesn't have any positive contribution to the city. It only adds to their (rebels') notoriety," Duterte said. "Gahatag lang sila kaguol sa families of those abducted."

Captain Raul Villegas of the Army's 10th Infantry Division said that members of the Peace and Development Team composed of six soldiers of 69th Infantry Battalion were held at gunpoint by the rebels at the vicinity of sitio Lubas, Barangay Paquibato Proper around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

The five abducted soldiers were identified as Corporal Emmanuel A Quezon, Private First Class (Pfc.) Ronald Gura, Pfc. Bernie Padilla, Pfc. Donato Estandia, and Private Marteniano Pasiagas Jr.

First Lieutenant Neven Canitan, who was part of the team, managed to escape.

According to Villegas, the soldiers were in civilian attire without any firearms because they were headed to the market to produce food supplies and coordinate with a non-government organization for the scheduled feeding program for the benefits of the community when they were kidnapped.

"It is very unfortunate that the NPA rebels took advantage of the situation to achieve their barbarity," he said.

He said the NPA rebels were dressed in military camouflage uniform and performed a barricade in the area, and acted like they were military personnel to deceive commuters.

However, he said Canitan noticed unusual demeanor and following his instinct, he immediately jumped from the motorcycle to escape.

Initial investigation conducted by Paquibato police revealed that the group of rebels was led by one Ryan Pitao, son of Leoncio Pitao, commander of the 1st Pulang Bagani Command (PBC1) of the NPA.

"The incident is in relation to the ongoing Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) in the area where the influence of the NPA is waning. The incident can also be construed as their [NPA] means to sow terror among the populace to stop the cooperation of civilians with our PDTs," Lieutenant Colonel Inocencio Pasaporte, 69th IB commander, told Sun.Star Davao.

Pasaporte assured that the NPA atrocities will not penetrate the metropolis as the rebels usually operate in the hinterlands of Davao City with attempts to disrupt PDOP operations of the military.

"We only need the cooperation and the bayanihan efforts of the community and the local government units to bring about change in Paquibato," he said.

Troopers from the 69th IB along with Paquibato police are now conducting pursuit operation to rescue the abducted soldiers.

Duterte-Carpio said the families of the victims have yet to seek help from the local government for the release of their abducted family members.

"Gibuhat for a statement," the mayor said when asked what could have been the reason of the rebels to abduct the soldiers. (With SDR/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)
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