Monday, April 12, 2010

Rebels abduct mayoralty candidate, aide in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / April 12, 2010) – Communist rebels abducted a mayoralty candidate and his aide after his group was intercepted in the southern Philippines, security officials said Monday.

Officials said New People’s Army rebels are holding former Lupon town mayor Arfran Quinones who is running as an independent candidate for the May 10 national polls and an ex-village official, Ronisito Pedro.

The politician was campaigning along with his eight supporters when rebels seized them on Sunday in Marayag village in Davao Oriental’s Lupon town.

Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the rebels released seven of Quinones’ supporters on the same day, but the gunmen held on to the former mayor and Pedro after they failed to pay so-called “permit-to-campaign” fees to the New People’s Army, which has been waging a secessionist war the past decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.

“Former Lupon town mayor Arfran Quinones who is running as an independent was with eight of his supporters in a campaign sortie when about 30 armed NPAs clad in military uniforms led by a certain Benjie of Sentro de Gravidad, of the Local Terrorist Front-18, held them at gunpoint.”

“The terrorists freed seven of the victims three hours later while Quinones together with a former village councilor of Marayag identified as Ronisito Pedro are still being held against their will,” the spokesman said, adding at least 30 rebels were involved in the abduction.

Quinones’ group was in a car when rebels stopped them at a checkpoint. The provincial governor, Arturo Uy, is currently negotiating for the safe release of the hostages, the military said.

Last month, two political campaigners were briefly held by rebels in Davao City after they failed to pay protection money. The military said the NPA is also campaigning for some candidates and party list groups with links to the Communist Party of the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

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