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GPH Statement on the Abduction of BJMP Personnel and Trial of Mayor Dano of Lingig, Surigao del Sur

Statement of the GPH Panel for Peace Negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF on the Abduction of BJMP Personnel and Trial of Mayor Dano of Lingig, Surigao del Sur

August 12, 2011

The GPH Peace Panel condemns the New People's Army's latest antics of granting supposed "prisoner of war" status to the four abducted BJMP guards and having Mayor Dano of Lingig, Surigao del Sur face trial before a "people's court". The CPP-NPA-NDF is not a state nor has any government recognized it as a belligerent force. It should not presume to act like one.

These acts committed by the NPA are nothing short of criminal. They are violative of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRIHL, which they have signed, as well as every human rights protocol. The four BJMP guards should not have been abducted in the first place because the functions they perform are civilian in nature and they are far from being "combatants".

These guards should be released immediately without any preconditions. We are concerned that some of them are suffering from poor health and nutrition. We hold the NPA directly responsible for their safety, and for any adverse health conditions they may suffer.

We also condemn in the strongest terms the trial of Mayor Dano by a so-called "people's court". This is a denial of the Mayor's fundamental rights which they themselves always demand when their own people are caught and are brought before a court of justice. The mayor's basic right to defend himself in the best possible way, his right to choose his own counsel, to enjoy the presumption of innocence, to be appraised of the complaints against him and to adequately prepare his appropriate defense, to call on witnesses and present documents, to be free from coercion, force or intimidation, are being violated with impunity.

Again the mayor is a non-combatant and should be released without preconditions, including both of his escorts who enjoy the same basic rights as any other.

It is unfortunate that while they are talking peace with government, the NPA has escalated its attacks and other acts of violence to unprecedented levels, committing the very acts they accuse government of doing. Obviously, they are working on the assumption that human rights apply only to them and that they can easily deprive those they choose to.

We reiterate our call to the CPP/NPA/NDF to seriously talk peace with government if they are serious in desiring to end the armed conflict. We ask that they stop these abductions, killings and other criminal acts which benefit no one, except those who actually profit from violence.


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