NPA releases POW in North Cotabato

The New People’s Army (NPA) released a prisoner of war Monday in Magpet, North Cotabato amid intensified military operations nationwide against the group following President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat of an all-out war and unilateral termination of the peace talks.

Arrested in August by the NPA’s Mt. Apo Sub-Regional Command, Makilala Police Station Police Officer 1 Bristol B. Catalan Jr was turned over to Rev Hipolito Parach of the Exodus for Justice and Peace, Magpet Vice Mayor Bernardo Pinol, Magpet Councilors Ruby Padilla-Sison, and Kidapawan City Councilor Francis Palmones at Barangay Bagumbayan, Magpet, Davao Today reported.

Catalan’s wife Geisha, children Karen and Jaspher, and cousin Ating Delgado were present at the turnover ceremony.

PO1 Catalan hugs daughter Karen at the release ceremony in Magpet, North Cotabato. (Bhong del Rosario/Kilab Multimedia)

Catalan, who looked healthy despite his ordeal only had positive words about his captors and custodians during the ceremony.

“I enjoyed my experience. We’ve been to exciting places until they (NPA) built a house for me,” Catalan told Davao Today.

Catalan’s release order was signed by National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Southern Mindanao representative Rubi Del Mundo.

Catalan’s “acts and conduct while under the detention and during the investigation and judicial proceedings have been observed as exhibiting remorse for his offenses and voluntary desistance from committing further crimes against the people and the revolutionary forces,” the order read.

Catalan expressed gratitude to the NPA during the ceremony.

“I’ll be with my family before Christmas,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)