BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/19 April) –Two police officers abducted by the New People’s Army (NPA) on April 14 in Barangay Poblacion, Loreto town, Agusan del Sur escaped from their captors on Thursday afternoon, officials said Friday.
Insp. Chris Artihemius Devaras, Loreto municipal police chief, said the two—P02 Roland Alan Muñez and PO1 Nemuel España—are now safely back to their families.
The two were able to escape after Muñez, who was able to untie the rope in his hands, grabbed the AK-47 assault rifle of one of their captors, which he used to shoot two of them, Devaras said on the phone.
He said the two NPA rebels were fatally shot by Muñez at close range.
Devaras said the two policemen escaped at around 3 p.m. Thursday from their captors holding them at Sitio Moto in Barangay Poblacion, and got separated as their captors chased them.
Muñez arrived in our station first at around 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Devaras said, adding that a combined police and army rescue team immediately combed the area to search for España.
He was found at around 3 a.m. Friday by the combined search and rescue team from the Provincial Public Safety Company, 14th Special Action Company and the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion hiding in adjacent Barangay Maitum, Devaras said.
The police chief declined to have both police officers interviewed, saying they were still undergoing debriefing and set to meet municipal and provincial officials.
Chief Supt. Getulio Napenas, Police Regional Office-13 director, said he ordered a pursuit operation against the NPA rebels.
He said the two police officers were responding to a hacking incident when abducted by the NPA rebels.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Aris Francisco, spokesman of NPA Comval-North Davao-South Agusan sub-regional command, said that lapses in the NPA custodial security force provided the two prisoners an opportunity to escape.
“With the prisoners’ flight, the process of legal and judicial proceeding has been suspended and all consideration to exonerate the two cops of the charges moot and academic. As such, the NPA sub-regional command considers the two police officers fugitives in the laws of the People’s Democratic Government and are targets for re-arrest,” he said.
Francisco said the NPA Guerilla Front 3 disarmed and arrested the police officers allegedly at a “hantakan” or gambling den in Sitio Muto, Loreto poblacion during the eve of its feast last April 14 at around 11 p.m.
The communist rebels confiscated from them a .45 caliber pistol, a 9 mm caliber pistol, an Icom radio and a set of handcuff, he said.
The statement was silent on the claims of the police that two of the NPA rebels were fatally shot. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)