DAVAO CITY, Philippines, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Leftist rebels on Tuesday released the last government soldier they held for over a month in southern Philippines, the military said.
Sergeant Bienvinido Arguilles was freed by his New People's Army (NPA) captors in a village in Monkayo town, in Mindanao's Compostela Valley past 1 p.m., Captain Emmanuel Garcia, spokesperson of the military's 10th Infantry Division, said.
"Yes he was already freed," Garcia told Xinhua in a text message, adding the freed soldier who has been in captivity for over a month would be brought to the regional military camp here for medical checkup and debriefing.
Arguilles was received by local and religious officials following a brief rebel send-off ceremony, civilian sources told Xinhua.
The NPA confirmed the release in a statement, crediting efforts by the soldier's family, local and religious officials, for his release on humanitarian grounds.
"(But) it must serve as a warning against people and groups, particularly foreign investors, who are out to plunder local wealth and resources," said Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the rebels' regional Merardo Arce Command.
Arguilles and Job Latiban, a young militiaman, were captured by NPA guerrillas manning a checkpoint along a road while on their way to a military outpost on a gold-rich mountain in the area on June 19. Latiban was released ahead last Friday.
The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a guerrilla campaign in the countryside for four decades. The military estimates the NPA strength at more than 4, 000 men scattered in more than 60 guerrilla fronts throughout the country.
Peace talks between the government and the leftists bogged down after the United States included the NPA and its parent body as foreign terrorist organizations in 2002.