NPA frees 2 soldiers in southern Mindanao

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Pfc. Samuel Garay and Sgt. Soliman Calocop (partially hidden) are turned over to their families.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 19) — After almost three months in captivity, two soldiers walk free after they were freed by communist rebels in Mindanao.

Sgt. Sulaiman Calocop and Private First Class Samuel Garay, both members of Philippine Army's 39th Infantry Battalion, were turned over by the New Peoples Army (NPA) to their families and third party facilitator on Wednesday in an outskirt barangay of Matanao in Davao Del Sur.

A spokesperson of communist guerrillas said the release of their captives was proof that they followed international agreements on human rights.

Related: Death toll in AFP-NPA clashes rises to 26 amid botched peace talks

The military welcomed the move saying they were "glad that the CPP-NPA has come to their senses and rectify their treacherous act."

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the two soldiers were abducted last February 2 while unarmed and ceasefires were still in effect.

"We were very clear in our position that there is no hindrance for the release of the abducted soldiers and that there was no reason to further hold them any longer except for propaganda purposes of the communists," Padilla said in a statement.

He added that Calocop and Garay would be given time to recover from the physical and psychological trauma of captivity by reuniting them with their families.

Kidapawan City-based stringer Abner Francisco contributed to this report.