Kidnapped mayor appeals for halt to military operations
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Mayor Herny Dano of Lingig, Surigao del Sur, has appealed for the suspension of military operations against a band of New People’s Army guerrillas that has been holding him captive since August 6.
In a voice message e-mailed Wednesday to the media by Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao, Dano addressed his call to President Benigno Aquino III.
Governor Rodolfo del Rosario of Davao del Norte also called for the suspension of military operations to rescue four jail guards of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology who were taken by the NPA in Bukidnon last July.
Del Rosario met with the wives and other relatives of the captives on Tuesday. Also in the meeting were representatives of the group Sowing the Seeds of Peace, which is composed of religious and human rights and peace advocates.
“There is a need for a suspension of military rescue operations, to give way for efforts to negotiate for the release of the four. I will join in this effort in hopes that we could reach out to the group to ensure the safety release of the four,” he said during the meeting.
The e-mail containing Dano’s voice message also included photos of the mayor and his security escorts, Pfc. Allan Pelino Saban and Cpl. Alrey Villasis Desamparado, who were also taken hostage.
“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,” Dano said.
He also called for the intervention of Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel “to send my request to our beloved President… to suspend the military operations to accord us safety, and to hasten our freedom.”
Dano asked his family not to worry over his situation. “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,” he said.
He said he regularly has his blood pressure checked and takes medication for his arthritis.
Saban, in a separate voice message, also made the same appeal as he assured his family that “here, we [are] fed well.”
“Right now, I am calling for President Aquino 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. Thank you,” he said.
Dano’s other bodyguard, Desamparado, sounded very hopeful they would be released by the NPA.
“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,” he said.
Saban and Desamparado, according to the NDF spokesperson, are both intelligence officers of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Del Mundo said that the military has launched a full-scale military offensives in the region since the capture of Dano and his escorts.
She said intense military operations were going on in the towns of Boston, Cateel, Baganga, all in the province of Davao Oriental; Monkayo in Compostela Valley; Trento in Agusan del Sur; and Mangagoy in Suirigao del Sur.
“The offensives and the hardline stance of the government peace negotiation panel are futile face-saving measures to disparage the NPA’s capability to arrest, detain and try persons in pursuit of revolutionary justice,” Del Mundo said.
The four BJMP personnel held by the rebels are Inspector Eric Llamasares, Insp. Murphy Todyog, jail officers Rolando D. Bajuyo Jr., and Rogelio Begontes, who were taken in Bukidnon on July 12.
“I appeal to the government to stop the operations as the other side [NPA] is asking for it so that positive action can start,” said Ann Bomoway, mother of Todyog.
“It has been a month, and we want to hear from my husband how he is now,” said Evalyn Llamasares.
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