Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Philippine rebels release proof of life of captured town mayor, soldiers

Photos released by the New People's Army rebels show Lingig town Mayor Henry Dano reading a book and soldiers Private First Class Allan Saban and Corporal Alrey Desamparado.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 24, 2011) – Philippine communist rebels on Wednesday released photos and audio recording of a town mayor and two soldiers who are being held in Mindanao, as proof of life and warned the military that any attempt to rescue the prisoners would endanger their lives.

The New People’s Army is holding Mayor Henry Dano, of Lingig town in Surigao del Sur; and his bodyguards Private First Class Allan Saban and Corporal Alrey Desamparado.

The rebels snatched Dano on August 6 in a daring raid that also captured two soldiers guarding the politician in his house in Lingig town.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command, said the politician is being tried by a revolutionary court on various criminal charges.

Dano could face execution by musketry if rebels find him guilty of all accusations against him.

“The charges point to Mayor Dano’s direct and indirect, overt and covert participation in armed hostilities waged by the AFP, PNP and their intelligence and paramilitary units against the NPA,”.

“Foremost of these acts is his maintenance of a private armed group and engaging in intelligence gathering against the revolutionary forces in Guerilla Front 20 in conjunction with the 4th Infantry Division intelligence operations,” Sanchez said, adding the mayor would also be investigated for his role in army recruitment in his town.

AFP refers to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, while the PNP is the acronym for Philippine National Police.

“He will also be questioned about his frontline participation in AFP military work like recruitment for Philippine Army enlistment and recruitment of the paramilitary CAFGU, among others,” Sanchez said.

CAFGU is short for Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit, a paramilitary group under the supervision of the Philippine Army.

In the audio clip, Dano appealed to President Benigno Aquino to halt all military operation in the province.

“I am asking for our beloved President, on my capacity as mayor of the town of Lingig and currently a detainee of the NPA, for the suspension of military operations to ensure our security and to facilitate for our early release from detention here, free from peril. I would also like to ask our beloved Governor, Johnny Pimentel, to send my request to our beloved President Benigno Aquino III, to suspend the military operations to accord us safety, and to hasten our freedom,” the mayor said.

He also told his supporters and relatives not to worry about him and has already spoken to his wife by phone.

“Since then, I have been well, thank God, for the regular visits, daily blood pressure taking and medications that were given to me, medicines most especially for my arthritis. We were also given clothes and separate tent which we use during rainy or hot weather.”

“With all this, I hope my family will not worry over our situation, most especially my wife and children, my relatives, my supporters, to all Lingiganons, because we are well. We are in good condition. In fact, I was able to call my wife so that I can assure her of our situation in the countryside with the NPA,” Dano said.

The two soldiers also appealed to their commanders to stop all rescue missions to hasten their safe release.

“I am alright and my health is well. I am calling for my relatives, especially for my family, that they will not be bothered with my condition, as the NPA treats us well. We were not hurt by them. Here, we were fed well. That’s why, right now, I am calling for Pres. Noynoy Aquino III to temporarily stop the military operation so that we will be in safe condition, and to hasten the process of hearing our case, and that we will be safe,” Saban said.

And Desamparado, in a separate audio recording, said: “For my family, I would like say to them that they should not fret because I am well. I was not sick, nor was I harmed. The NPA treats me well. By God’s mercy, I would be reunited with my family.”

“I am calling for President Aquino, we are asking for your help to accelerate the process of hearing our case and so that we can safely return home to our loved ones. President Aquino, you are our only hope. We look forward to your ordering the cessation of military operations so that we can regain our freedom,” he said.

Both soldiers are members of the 6th Infantry Battalion assigned to guard the politician.

Rubi del Mundo, spokesman for the National Democratic Front, said the military has launched a full-scale offensive in southern Mindanao.

“The offensives and the hard line stance of the government peace negotiating panel are futile face-saving measures to disparage the NPA’s capability to arrest, detain and try persons in pursuit of revolutionary justice. Aquino should uphold the protective status of NPA captives, recognize the revolutionary movement’s legal-judicial process and suspend the military and police operations to resolve the case of Mayor Dano, Corporal Desamparado, and Private First Class Saban,” Del Mundo said.

Manila is currently negotiating peace with communist rebels in an effort to end decades of bloody fighting in the country. But both sides have not signed any cease-fire agreement and clashes still continue in many parts of the Philippines.

Aside from the mayor and his bodyguards, the NPA is also holding four jail officers - Police Inspectors Murphy Todyog and Eric Llamasares, Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio Begontes and Jail Officer 1 Rolando Bajuyo Jr. - who were seized July 21 after a daring rescue of a prisoner Dennis Rodenas in Bukidnon province.

Authorities said Rodenas is a senior rebel leader who is facing a string of criminal charges. He was rescued by dozens of rebels while being transported to a prison facility in Davao. (Mindanao Examiner)

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