Only crisis committee can order stop of military operations to rescue Surigao mayor, BJMP personnel – Army

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/30 August) – Despite the circulation of video clips showing Lingig, Surigao del Sur Mayor Henry Dano and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) personnel appealing to the military to suspend operations against the New People’s Army (NPA), the 4th Infantry Division said only the local crisis management committee can issue the order.

“We are under the crisis management committee. We will do what they will order us to do,” Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, 4ID spokesman, said in a telephone interview.


He said, too, that directly under the crisis committee’s chair – Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel – is Police Regional Office 13 director Chief Supt. Reynaldo Rafal. “This means that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is the lead security agency of the committee. We only coordinate with them. Until ordered by the committee otherwise, we could not just stop military operations in the area,” he said.


Osias said, though, that the standing order of Maj. Gen. Victor Felix, 4ID commander, to the troops on the ground is to “exhaust all possible means for the safe recovery of Mayor Dano and his security details,” as well as the four BJMP officers.


Local media outfits here received last week video clips of Dano and the BJMP personnel – Jail Inspectors Eric Llamasares and Murphy Todyog , Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio Begontes and JO1 Rolando Bajoyo Jr. – who appealed for the suspension of military operations against the NPA.


The NPA’s Merardo Arce Command abducted Dano and his two military security details past 5 a.m. on August 6 at Dano’s residence in Lingig town, Surigao del Sur. On July 21, the rebels abducted the four BJMP officers after the NPAs rescued their alleged comrade Dennis Rodenas along the highway in Kitaotao, Bukidnon.


In an emailed statement, Rigoberto Sanchez, Merardo Arce Command spokesperson, said they have treated the four BJMP officers as “prisoners of war,” while Dano and his two military escorts are being tried for “anti-revolutionary activities.”


Dano is the second mayor of Lingig town abducted. Days before the 2010 May national elections, the NPA’s Conrado Heredia Command abducted then mayor (now vice mayor) Roberto Luna and four of his security details.


Osias denied that the two military escorts of Dano were intelligence officers as what the NPAs claimed in their statement.


“They were merely on security details for Mayor Dano. If they were intelligence officers then they would not have identified themselves as soldiers,” he said. (Cong Corrales / MindaNews)