Communist 'court' to try Surigao del Sur mayor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2011 11:58 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2011 06:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The New People's Army (NPA) will have Surigao del Sur Mayor Henry Dano face a "People's Court" for his alleged acts against the communist rebels, an NPA leader said.

In a statement published on the Internet Tuesday night, Rigoberto Sanchez of the NPA-Southern Mindanao's Merardo Arce Command said the Lingig town mayor will undergo an investigation in response to complaints lodged filed against him before rebel group's "court."

"The charges point to Mayor Dano's direct and indirect, overt and covert participation in armed hostilities waged by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), PNP (Philippine National Police) and their intelligence and paramilitary units against the NPA," Sanchez said.

Communist guerrillas kidnapped Dano and his 2 military escorts last August 6.

The NPA is accusing Dano of having private army and "engaging in intelligence gathering against the revolutionary forces in Guerilla Front 20 in conjunction with the 4th Infantry Division intelligence operations."

"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. "These are functions and tasks already outside the domain of his work as a civilian functionary of a local GPH (government of the Philippines) unit."

"While undergoing the pertinent processes of the People’s Court, Mayor Dano is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt as is the judicial tenet of the People's Court. There should be no worry about his safety and security while in custody except when the GPH and its military, police and paramilitary forces launch face-saving rescue operations, which are in fact already underway now," the rebel leader said.

Geneva protocol

Sanchez, meanwhile, said the NPA will follow  the Geneva Conventions with regard to Dano's bodyguards, Corporal Alrey Villasis Desamparado and Private First Class Allan Pelino.

He said the 2 are Army intelligence officers soldiers belonging to the 4th Infantry Division.

"Documentary evidence taken from them confirm their S2 (intelligence) status, designation, task, functions and records. Whether they may or may not be accorded the POW (prisoner of war) status will be in accordance with Article 46, Section II of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions," the rebel leader said.

'Prisoners of war'

Sanchez added that 4 Bureau of Jail Management and Penology officers who were taken by the NPA in a separate operation in Kitaotao, Bukidnon last July 21 have been given a POW status.

"The NPA is determined to fulfill its task to hit the enemy who harm the interests of the people, to take POWs as a legitimate act during an armed conflict," he said.

He identified the 4 BJMP officers as Jail Inspector Murphy Todyog, Jail Inspector Eric Llamasares,  Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio Begontes, and Jail Officer 1 Rolando Bajuyo Jr.

"Under international conventions, the POW status is a protective status that guarantees the recognition and full respect of the POW's basic rights," Sanchez said. "But the POW status is without prejudice to the possibility of filing criminal charges against any one of them before the people’s court, if so determined in the process of the investigation which is still ongoing in the case of these 4 POWs. This is on the basis of possible complicity to violations of human rights and IHL in the conduct of their role in the operations of the armed security machinery of the reactionary government."

He did not say if the 4, who are currently under the custody of the Herminio Alfonso Command of the NPA's Guerilla Front 53, will be released soon to their families.