Leftist rebels release voice tapes of kidnapped mayor, 4 troops as "proof of life"

15:12, May 15, 2010      

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Leftist rebels holding a politician and four government troops hostage in southern Philippines have released voice recordings of the hostages, almost two weeks after the abduction.

In a statement, Roel Agustin, leader of a band of New People's Army (NPA) rebels responsible for the kidnapping of Lingig, Surigao del Sur mayor Roberto Luna Jr., said the audio recording was meant to disprove military "propaganda" that the victims had already died in their custody.

Luna, in the recording, said the rebels treated him and his companions well and that the victims' families need not worry for they are OK.

"It's now May 9, and they are treating us well here. We are able to eat good food, we sleep enough and they give the medicines for my (arthritis)," Luna said in the clip sent to local media by email. The mayor who is running for vice mayoralty in his hometown in Lingig municipality and his four army and police escorts were seized in a rebel checkpoint along the national highway in Mindanao's Compostela Valley early this month.

Soldier Ariel Dizon told his family in North Cotabato that he is in good health "and well taken care of by my brothers here in the mountains."

The military is firm in its stand of not negotiating with the rebels for the release of the captives.

The army's 10th Infantry Division based in this city, said any "show of goodwill and compassion by the rebels is nothing but empty propaganda," and that the well-being of the captives are only well taken care of if they are immediately released.

The leftist group said the movement is investigating Luna for his alleged involvement in forming a private army and several other grave crimes like murders and land-grabbing committed in his town and province.

Source: Xinhua
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