Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Philippine mayor being held by rebels faces serious criminal charges

A photo released by the New People's Army to the Mindanao Examiner shows Lingig town Mayor Henry Dano reading a book at a rebel base in the southern Philippines.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 21, 2011) – Communist rebels holding a town mayor has accused him of serious human violations in the southern Philippines.

The rebels said the private army of Mayor Henry Dano, of Lingig town in Surigao del Sur province, was also responsible in the brutal murder of a tribal leader –Eduardo Toyogon - in the southern Philippines.

Toyogon, who opposed mining operation in tribal areas in the province, was murdered in October 2010 by Dano’s private army, said Rubi del Mundo, a spokesperson for the New People’s Army.

The politician is being tried by a revolutionary court 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 opposed to mining operations in the town.

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

Last month, Dano appealed to President Benigno Aquino to stop all rescue operations in the province to allow peaceful negotiations for their safe release.

“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,” Dano said.

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.

Del Mundo said the military has launched a full-scale offensive in the province.

“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. (Mindanao Examiner)

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