Monday, October 10, 2011

NPA Armed Contacts for the Fourth Quarter of 2011, Part II: Release of Lingig Mayor Henry Dano and Two Soldiers from the 75IB

In a prior "NPA Armed Contacts for the Third Quarter" entry I discussed the NPA attack on Mayor Henry Dano's home in the municipality of Lingig in Surigao del Sur Province. In that August 6th, 2011 attack by the NPA's Front 20, the Conrado Heredia Command of the SMRC, or Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, guerillas in plain clothes presented themselves as NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) Agents working a case in that town. As per Standard Operating Procedure the agents merely wished to make a courtesy call on Mayor Dano to apprise him of their presence and reason for it. Dano's residential compound was being guarded with an NCO, or Non-Commissioned Officer, Corporal Alrey de Samparado and a soldier, Private First Class Alan Saban, from the 75IB (Infantry Battalion). The soldier on duty, Saban, allowed three "NBI Agents" to enter the gated compound and was promptly disarmed of both his M16 and his 45 caliber sidearm. The guerillas then re-opened the compound's gate allowing a throng of fellow guerillas into the compound.

Using Saban as a decoy the NPA then infiltrated Dano's home and held him, his family, and his second security escort, Corporal Alrey de Samparado, at gunpoint as they searched the premises for weapons and intelligence. As I noted in my entry "NPA Armed Contacts for the Fourth Quarter, Part I," the usual NPA prisoner is released at the two week mark. As I also noted however, the impasse in the GPH-NDFP Peace Process (Government of the Philippines and National Democratic Front of the Philippines as the umbrela entity encompassing the NPA and its political wing, CPP, or Communist Party of the Philippines is known) has led to significantly longer captivities. The "impasse" revolves around a 1995 Joint Agreement known as JASIG, or the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. As one might surmise JASIG was designed to protect NPA/CPP members involved in the Peace Process. Unfortunately for Mayor Dano et al the Government has failed to abide by the document with more than a dozen JASIG-protected personalities currently imprisoned in Philippine prisons.

Finally, in the last days of September on NDFP Peace Panel Chairperson Luis G.Jalandoni's fresh from his last sojourn to the Philippines (he is in exile in the Netherlands) both sides managed to make a tad bit of progress on the issue so that on September 28th the NPA ordered the release of Mayor Dano and his two security escorts, Saban and de Samparado. However, their release was put on hold as the AFP continued pushing tactical operations. Finally, on Sunday, October 9th, 2011, the NPA was able to release all three in the municipality of Trento's Barangay Pulang Lupa, in Agusan del Sur Province. At 3PM, in Sitio Upper New Visayas' Purok #5 the NPA's Front 20 held the typical NPA propaganda party with Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel doing his part for Manila. At the Governor's side were the three wives of the prisoners who collapsed in tears upon first seeing their husbands enter the jungle clearing.

After the usual rigamorole Mayor Dano was escorted by Governor Pimentel to Davao City for a de-briefing and medical exam while Corporal de Samaparado and Private First Class Saban were driven to Brigade Headquarters in Bislig City, in Surigao del Sur Province. I am sure the last POL, or Proof of Life released by the NPA will be the first thing discussed. In that POL, released at the end of September, both men swore that they were quitting the AFP, and offered heartfelt apologies for their "counter-revolutionary activities" and "crimes against the people." Of particular note AFTERWARDS was an admonishment by the NPA in which it stated on October 6th that although both men were being released on humanitarian grounds, both men owed a "blood debt to the people" and that they were only being given a "conditional release" which left them still liable to execution in the future.

The bee in the NPA's bonnet was that both men, allegedly Military Inelligence assets, had played significant roles in an operation while both were formerly attached to the 36IB in which they were, according to the NPA spin meisters, for the death of a cadre in Front 6 of the NCMRC, or Northcentral Mindanao Regional Committee. Likewise, during their current role as Security Escorts for Mayor Dano and attached to the 75IB they allegedly provided intelligence that led to the 6th Scout Rangers Company and 25IB over running a rendevouz of five NPA Fronts on May 29th, 2011. The meeting, at an NPA encampment in the municipality of Cateel in Davao Oriental Province, led to the lover of Front 20's Secretary, or leader, becoming a quadripalegic. That lover, Vanessa "Ka Enchang" de los Reyes was one of three guerillas personally airlifted by Davao City Vice Mayor slash local warlord Rodrigo "Roddy" Duterte in a Government helicopter so as to get los Reyes life saving medical care in Davao City.

IF either man had any real role in that sordid affair I have no doubt that Front 20 members would have already killed them. Front 20, co-incidentally, aside from being the Front operating in the municipality of Lingig, was also the island's Custodial Front. Any prisoner taken on Mindanao was held by Front 20 but with that May 29th operation that responsibility passed to Front 53, the Herminio Alfonso Command of the SMRC. Yet, Mayor Dano and these two Security Escorts were retained by Front 20 more out of logistical needs than anything else. Although Front 53 now holds that role it was already saddled with four BJMP, or Bureau of Jail Management and Prisons' employees who were captured by Front 88 of NCMRC while freeing high ranking cadre Dennis Rodinas on July 21st, 2011. Eventually six civilian prisoners would be added when, on August 10th, Front 88 "captured" six door to door salesmen who, as of this writing on Monday, October 10th, remain in captivity. Therefore Front 20 was delegated the care of Mayor Dano and these two AFP members. Had there been a real connection to los Reyes' injuries this wouldn't have been allowed to transpire.

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