September 29, 2023

Insurgent leadership orders release of Surigao del Sur mayor


Insurgents are expected to release a southern Philippines mayor they had been holding for nearly two months following an admission by a local official to maintaining an armed group to protect mining interests in his province.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a statement released Friday, said it had ordered the release of Mayor Henry Dano of Lingig town, Surigao del Sur after the latter issued a audio recording of his confession.

The CPP said it had made a "a political decision to suspend the judicial proceedings against the municipal mayor as an affirmative response to his issuance of an apology."

It also said that the release was ordered as a "humanitarian consideration to the appeals made by his family and the representations made by well-meaning groups and individuals."

Dano and two of his military bodyguards were captured by the New People's Army (NPA) last August 6 in an early morning raid at his residence in Lingig.

The NPA is the armed component of the CPP-led insurgent movement.

Dano, in his audiorecorded confession, said: "… 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."

Prospects appear bright that the temporarily stalled talks between the government and the insurgents will resume. On Sept. 29, the National Democratic Front (NDF), the negotiating arm of the communist umbrella, said it is ready to release four personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) who were captured by the NPA in a raid in the town of Kitaotao in Bukidnon province last July 21.

The NDF, in a statement, said it will release the four jail officers as soon as the government orders a Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) and Suspension of Offensive Police Operations (SOPO).

The four jail officers were captured by the insurgents while in the process of moving a captured NPA rebel from Cagayan de Oro to Davao City.

Earlier, the government had declared a unilateral one-day SOMO last September 21 in observance United Nations-declared International Day of Peace.

Jurgette Honculada, member of the government negotiating panel, said the religious sector will be playing an important part in the peace process.

"One day of armed conflict is one day too many as it translates into resources diverted away from schoolrooms and health clinics, roads and bridges, deepening the culture of violence that wreaks lasting damage on our psyches and our body politic," Honculada said in a statement.

The government had been meeting with the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, a group of Church leaders encouraging the conflicting parties of the government and the CPP-NPA-NDFP to resume peace talks. (Gulf News)

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