NPA rebels to try town mayor, other captives in ‘people’s court’
BUTUAN CITY—New People’s Army rebels operating in Mindanao said they were holding seven government personnel, including Mayor Henry Dano of Lingig, Surigao del Sur, and two of his military escorts, for investigation and trial for their alleged crimes by a “people’s court.”
Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the Merardo Arce Command of the NPA in Southern Mindanao, said the rebels were not inclined to release Dano and his two escorts until they have been cleared of charges of “armed hostile acts.”
Dano, along with his two security aides, was seized by rebels, who posed as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, from his house in Lingig on August 6.
Sanchez said the rebels decided to capture Dano “because of his participation in armed hostilities like intelligence gathering, recruitment and enlistment of militia and for maintaining a private armed group.”
“Dano will be questioned about his frontline participation in military work. These are functions and tasks already outside the domain of his work as a civilian functionary,” Sanchez said in a statement sent to the Inquirer.
He said that like other prisoners, Dano and his escorts were being “presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.”
Sanchez assured the families of Dano and his aides that the captives were being treated humanely.
Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel, who chairs the provincial crisis management council, said they were looking for ways to open talks with the rebels and facilitate the release of the hostages.
“I’m offering my hand to the rebels. The provincial government is open to talks for the release of Dano,” Pimentel told the Inquirer.
In a separate statement, a copy of which the Inquirerobtained, Sanchez said the NPA considers the four jail officials seized in Bukidnon on July 21 as ‘prisoners of war.’.
He said the captives—Murphy Todyog, Ozamiz City jail warden, Insp. Eric Llamasares, Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio Begontes and Jail Officer 1 Rolando Bajuyo Jr.—were formally guaranteed recognition and full respect of their basic rights.
The four jail officers were taken captive when the rebels rescued a colleague, Dennis Rodenas, while he was being transported along with eight other convicted prisoners to the Davao Penal Farm in Davao del Norte.
Sanchez said that POW status “is without prejudice to the possibility of filing criminal charges against any one of them before the people’s court.
He said while the four jail officers were non-combatants, they were being investigated for “possible complicity to violations of human rights and (International Human Rights Laws) in the conduct of their role in the operations of the armed security machinery of the reactionary government.”
Sanchez said the ongoing military offensives in Kitaotao and Kibawe in Bukidnon and in Arakan, North Cotabato, have delayed the investigation of the captives and could even threaten their safety.
(Reports from Franklin Caliguid, Ryan Rosauro and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao)
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