Army questions ‘belligerency posturing’ of NDF

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/21 Sept) – As Mayor Henry Dano of Lingig, Surigao del Sur is undergoing trial for violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law in a “people’s court,” an Army official has brushed aside the National Democratic Front’s “belligerency posturing” by pointing out that the latter has no mandate of the people of the Philippines.

In an emailed statement Tuesday, Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the NDF-Southern Mindanao, said “the application of the legal and judicial processes of the revolutionary movement in the pending case of GPH municipal mayor Henry Dano of Lingig, Surigao del Sur continues.”

“Despite or regardless of the continuation of the general armed hostilities or even specific military operations, the legal and judicial processes of the revolutionary movement continues as a matter of course in the exercise of its revolutionary powers as a distinct government,” Del Mundo said in the statement.

According to the NDF, Dano is facing charges of “serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in connection with the building and maintenance of a private armed group that operates in pursuit of mining interests and in conjunction with the larger armed counterrevolutionary program of the GPH.”

Del Mundo claims that Dano’s private army “was organized in collaboration with the regular, intelligence and paramilitary forces of the 75th Infantry Battallion-4th Infantry Division” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines “a few months after last year’s national elections.”

“This private armed group – which also functions as a security unit for his mining-related enterprises in Brgy. Palo Alto and other areas in Lingig – harassed peasants and Lumads who oppose the entry of large-scale mining operations in the area. On October 24, 2010, the paramilitary goons of Mayor Dano murdered Eduardo ‘Tacder’ Toyogon, a purok leader of Purok 7, Sitio Sayon, Barangay Mahayahay, Lingig and a member of a progressive peasant association,” the NDF statement reads.

In a phone interview Wednesday, 4ID spokesperson Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias IV said that the posturing of the NDF as a belligerent state is funny since the government has considered them the “largest private armed group” and “has committed numerous atrocities against human rights and have sown terror in the populace.”

“What is their moral ascendancy to conduct investigation against Mayor Dano? They should conduct investigations on human rights violations within their ranks. Mayor Dano is an elected official of the government of the Philippines and voted by the people. Was he voted by the [New People’s Army]?” Osias asked.

He denied that Dano’s private army was organized as a paramilitary force of the AFP, saying they do not need ragtag armed groups to help them in their war against insurgency.

“There is no truth in that. That is a black propaganda they (NPA) have been dishing to the people. Our organization is well-organized and well-structured, so we do not need any private armed group. They are the largest private armed group using ‘ideology’ for their economic gains,” he said. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)