Rebels free Davao mayoral bet

Manila, Philippines --- Suspected communist rebels freed Thursday night a Davao del Norte mayoral bet whom they seized for his alleged failure to pay permit-to-campaign fee, a police official said yesterday.

Senior Supt. Jose Carrumba, director of the Davao del Norte police, said Ronie Osnan told them that he was freed unconditionally by the rebels who invited him to discuss the NPA protocol governing candidates.

"According to him, he was allowed to go at around 5:30 p.m. Thursday but he had to make a long walk until he reached his headquarters in Baganga (town) at 8 p.m.," said Carrumba.

Osnan was taken shortly after his speech in Barangay Campawan Wednesday afternoon for his alleged failure to pay permit-to-campaign fee to the local rebels.

Osnan, who is reportedly a contractor, is running as an independent mayoral candidate in Baganga town.

The NPA rate for mayoral bet is reportedly P100,000 - the payment serves as an assurance that he will not be harassed.

Carrumba said they are now coordinating with the military for the follow-up operations against the communist rebels.

On the part of the PNP, he said they will file appropriate charges against the rebels, reportedly led by a certain Floro Manaombon, commanding officer of the Sentro de Grabdidad of Front Committee 15.

"He (Osnan) has to participate in the filing of cases, we will not tolerate this criminal action," said Carrumba.

The 4,000-strong New People's Army has been waging more than four decades of armed struggle against the government. Peace negotiations with the government and the NPA peace panel recently hit a snag.