Thursday, May 06, 2010

Rebels own up abduction of Philippine mayor, 4 aides

A New People's Army fighter. (

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 6, 2010) – New People’s Army rebels owned up the abduction of a southern Filipino town mayor and four of his escorts and claimed they were being held for various crimes, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Simon Santiago, of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command, said rebels are holding Lingig town mayor Roberto Luna Jr, and two government soldiers and two policemen, who were all seized on Wednesday near the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Compostela Valley provinces.

He said Luna, who is running for vice mayor in his town under President Gloria Arroyo’s Lakas-Kampi-CMD coalition, is being held for investigations for numerous criminal, land grabbing and graft cases.

“Luna is being investigated for the 2007 murders of Suazo siblings who were Barangay Union residents in Lingig town; and Luna's involvement in the cold-blooded murder of Mayor Amerosin V. Onsing in 2001. Luna has also been accused of land grabbing 30-hectare peasant lands in Barangay Pagbacatan, and in Dahican Island.”

“Luna who is now seeking the Lingig town vice mayoralty post has been facing graft charges for the 26-million peso Land Bank loan for water ways in 2009. He has pending cases in reactionary courts for illegal logging, falsification of official documents, grave misconduct, and graft and corruption,” Santiago said.

The allegations cannot be independently confirmed, but the NPA said it would issue further statements and notices related to the prisoners.

Santiago said rebel forces also seized from Luna’s group five M16 automatic rifles, two .45-caliber pistols and one 9mm automatic pistol, including one .380-caliber pistol.

He identified the captured soldiers and police officers as Private First Class John Rey Abao and Arnel Dizon, both from the 58th Infantry Battalion; and Police Officer 2 Boy de Castro and Police Officer 3 Alan Dapitanon, who are members of the Lingig town police force.

Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said Luna was on his way to visit his sick child in Davao City when some 30 rebels blockaded a highway and flagged down the politician’s car and seized him and his aides.

He said rebels last month also abducted former Lupon town mayor Arfran Quinones, who is seeking re-election, and his aide in the village of Marayag in Davao Oriental province.

Garcia said two followers of a House Speaker Prospero Nograles were abducted in Davao City in March after the solon failed to pay extortion money.

On Wednesday, communist rebels also briefly held 5 people campaigning for Nograles, who is running for mayor in Davao City.

Garcia said some 30 New People’s Army rebels seized the 5 men while they were campaigning on a village in Davao City’s Tugbok District.

He said the men were interrogated and freed unharmed several hours later. “The victims were lectured by the rebels on election rules of the NPA and they want them to follow those rules. The rebels also told them not to vote for Nograles,” Garcia said.

Nograles is a staunch military supporter and is running against Davao City vice mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of incumbent mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is seeking a congressional seat against the solon’s son lawyer Karlo Nograles, in the May 10 general elections.

“The NPA is clearly meddling in the elections. They are intimidating and coercing people thru the barrel of the gun and robbing our people of their freedom to exercise their right to suffrage and free from any threat. This is a total disregard to the right of the people,” Garcia said.

The NPA earlier warned politicians campaigning for the elections should pay so-called “campaign fees” in areas where the rebels are actively operating. The rebels have so far disarmed politicians and their bodyguards and torched their campaign vehicles the past weeks for their failure to pay the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which is waging a secessionist war for the past four decades now. (Mindanao Examiner)

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