The people demand the dismantling of Lingig Mayor’s private army

By SIMON SANTIAGO
Regional Political Department
Merardo Arce Command
NPA-Southern Mindanao Region

Arrested warlord Roberto 'Jimmy' Luna, Jr. (Lakas-Kampi) has strengthened his private army, and armed them with large caches of firearms issued by the Department of National Defense of the US-Arroyo Regime. Within nine years as mayor of Lingig, Surigao del Sur, Luna, a Gloria Arroyo ally, has maintained at least a platoon of private army which he uses mainly to hit civilians and political opponents for his ambitious interests.

Ongoing investigations on the arrested Mayor has further affirmed the numerous complaints against him ranging from murder, land grabbing, graft cases to illegal logging and his involvement in the drug trade. Luna was arrested 5 May in the Davao-Agusan National Highway in Pasian, Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province during a mobile check point mounted by the Conrado Heredia Command-Front 20 Operations Command of the New People's Army, to arrest Luna.

Luna has used his armed goons to implement the murder of the Suazo siblings in Barangay Union, Lingig in 2007, kill his political opponent Mayor Amerosin V. Onsing in 2001; and go after the Red fighters in an armed incident in 2001. Upon his orders, his private army also sowed terror among civilians in Barangay Pagbacatan and in Dahican Island where Luna's interests in agri-business and tourism lie. Luna has land grabbed at least 30 hectares of peasant lands in Barangay Pagbacatan.

In February 2006, following numerous complaints docketed with the Hukumang Bayan (People's Court) of the People's Democratic Government, the NPA made attempts to dismantle Mayor Luna's private army by raiding his house and disarming his Philippine National Police headquarters which garnered at least 22 firearms. But the Mayor has remained deaf to the people's clamor and continued to sow terror among the populace.

Warlord Luna has found a gracious ally in Gloria Arroyo who protects and coddles warlordism in the country and the proliferation of private armies via Arroyo's Executive Order 546 strengthening the regime's local officials to become warlords. The same Arroyo order that bred cold-blooded murderers like the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao that use its private armies and DND-issued firearms to kill and maim civilians, build their vast empire, stifle the people's discontent and get away with anything — even the most heinous crimes.

The Arroyo regime merely pays lip service to dismantle private armies following the widely condemned 23 November Ampatuan Massacre. Warlords and private armies have actually continued to proliferate and enjoy the protection of the Arroyo regime.

The New People's Army for its part has remained firm in its commitment to disband private armies and all forms of warlordism inimical to the people's interests. The arrest and investigation of Mayor Luna is part of this commitment to hold accountable all those found guilty and face the legal and judicial processes as stipulated in the People's Court.

Meanwhile, Mayor Luna has remained safe in the custody of the New People's Army and is being accorded humane treatment as has been the practice of the NPA towards all its captives.

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