Monday, September 26, 2011

Mindanao mayor captured by rebels admits human rights violations, issues public apology

Mayor Henry Dano.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 26, 2011) – A Philippine mayor being held captive by communist rebels have apologized for human rights violations he committed in the southern island of Mindanao.

“I apologize to the revolutionary movement, in particular to the masses and to the New People's Army, for my acts constituting violations to human rights and to international humanitarian law, Mayor Henry Dano, of Lingig town in Surigao province, said in an audio clip released by the New People’s Army to the Mindanao Examiner on Monday.

It was not immediately known whether the statement was prepared by the rebels or not.

“The commission of these acts, in collaboration with the armed troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the Government of the Philippines, resulted in the charges that I am facing in the people's court of the people's democratic government that is based in the countryside.”

“I trust that my apology shall be accepted and that I will be given an opportunity to rectify my errors and change for the benefit of the masses,” Dano said.

The rebels said Dano’s private army was responsible in the brutal murder of a tribal leader –Eduardo Toyogon - in Lingig town. Toyogon, who opposed mining operation in tribal areas in the town, was murdered in October 2010, said Rubi del Mundo, a spokesperson for the New People’s Army.

The politician is being tried by rebels on various criminal charges. He could face execution by musketry if rebels find him guilty of all accusations against him.

Dano was seized August 6 in a daring raid by rebels who also captured two soldiers - Private First Class Allan Saban and Corporal Alrey Desamparado - guarding the politician in his house in Lingig town.

“Mayor Dano is facing the charge of serious violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law in connection with the building and maintenance of a private armed group that operates in pursuit of mining interests and in conjunction with the larger armed counterrevolutionary program of the Philippine government,” Del Mundo said.

The militias also served as security forces for the politician’s mining-related enterprises in the villages of Palo Alto and other areas in Lingig where they harassed peasants and tribesmen who are oppose to mining operations in the town.

The rebels said Dano was also involved in the government’s covert operations against the NPA.

Aside from Dano and the soldiers, the rebels are 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 jailed rebel leader Dennis Rodenas in Bukidnon province.

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. (Mindanao Examiner)

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