NPA rebels released Caraga cop after 19 days of captivity

by Ben Serrano

     February 19, 2011


            Camp Rafael Rodriguez, LIBERTAD, BUTUAN CITY (PNA) - Finally, after 19 days of captivity PO3 George Sabatin was finally released by the New People’s Army in a hinterland area in Trento town at about 1:15 p.m. today, Caraga police regional director Chief Supt. Reynaldo S. Rafal said.


            Rafal said that Sabatin was released to members of the Multi-Sectoral Crisis Management Council who negotiated for the safe release of the beleaguered cop.


            Rafal claimed that although Sabatin was residing in Trento, Agusan del Sur he is member of the Agusan del Sur Provincial Public Safety Company formerly the Provincial Police Mobile Group (PPMG).


            Rafal added that Sabatin was turned over by his NPA captors to Agusan del Sur Vice Governor Santiago Cane, Agusan del Sur Provincial Social Welfare officials and personnel in the presence of Sabatin’s wife Jonah, 25.


            “Based on the report of my men from the field, Sabatin’s release was very emotional when her wife Jonah embraced tightly her husband after seeing him free” Rafal said.


            Earlier, the New People’s Army hinted they will release Prisoner of War PO3 George Sabatin anytime today.


            According to Rafal, Sabatin will be brought here in Butuan City late this afternoon at the Caraga Police Regional Office for medical check-up and debriefing


            Earlier this morning, In an interview aired live over local RMN radio station here, Sabatin claimed he surrendered not kidnapped as reported by police and military authorities.


            Sabatin claimed that when the NPA rebels attacked the DENR-LGU forest product in Pulang Lupa, Trento, Agusan del Sur morning of February 1, 2011 at about 6 a.m. that killed two civilians and wounding two cops, he was able to hide inside the checkpoint wounded.


            “At that time when I saw I was alone inside wounded, the NPA rebels shouted that I must surrender and so I surrendered” Sabatin claimed.


            Sabatin said that last Valentine’s Day he was able to call and greeted his wife Jonah, 25, and their four children, all ages one year old to five years old.


            Sabatin cried on air when his family was mentioned in the live interview.


            Apart from his wife and children where he assured he is just okay in the hands of the New People’s Army, Sabatin assured his farmer parents based in Trento, Agusan del Sur both already in their 60’s that he is well and alive.


            Earlier, Sabatin’s wife Jonah issued appeal to her husband’s captors for the cop’s safe release.


                                                       No ransom paid nor NPA demands granted


            Although Rafal confirmed that Sabatin’s captors really demanded firearms, three baby armalites and M-203 grenade launcher in exchange for his release, the PNP particularly Caraga Police regional office did not heed on the NPA’s demands saying such demands were illegal, unlawful on the part of the PNP.


            “Noon demand nila yan pero di nasunod kasi bawal nga” Rafal said.


            Rafal said that as far as his office is concern, he did not granted to any of the demands and no payment was made in exchange of Sabatin’s release this afternoon.


            But when asked on whether how true rumors are that some negotiators outside the PNP’s control and supervision allegedly gave in to the NPA demands, Rafal replied, “No comment basta kami we stood by on our policies, no ransom, no demands just release Sabatin”.


            Police and military official reports claimed an estimated 50 NPA rebels belonging to Guerilla Front (GF) 20 attacked the monitoring post of the Task Force Bantay Kalikasan of the Agusan del Sur Provincial Governor’s Office at Pulang Lupa, Trento, Agusan del Sur around 6:00 AM, February 1, 2011 on board an Isuzu forward six-wheeler truck color blue bearing plate number CDW 445, owned by Lolito Guyano.   


            The report also claimed that one team from Agusan del Sur Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) were on the area providing to government personnel monitoring water level of the Agusan River as part of Disaster monitoring when they were attacked.


            The report added that Police Officer 3 (PO3) Mario Sevillano was wounded and Police Officer 3 (PO3) George Sabatin was abducted while two (2) civilians namely Pletzmark Dimzon and alias “Lito”, both members of the said Task Force were killed.


            Said official PNP and AFP reports also claimed, two M16 rifles were taken by the communist terrorists as they withdrew towards Barangay Visayas of the said municipality on board another vehicle, Isuzu forward color red bearing plate number YAZ 846, owned by Bartolome Navalta, of legal age and a resident of P-4, Pulang Lupa, Trento, Agusan del Sur.


            But the report did not say if the private owners of the vehicles used in the NPA attack were being investigated, charged or not. (PNA/Ben Serrano)

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