THE military has begun arresting communists after President Rodrigo Duterte ended peace talks with them over a spate of rebel attacks on government troops.
Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo Monday said Ariel Arbitrario, a consultant for the National Democratic Front, was arrested at a checkpoint in Davao City. He had been released last year to join peace talks with the government.
Arbitrario’s arrest was confirmed by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate at a news briefing.
“The members of the government panel were already made aware of this. I hope this will be resolved soon so it will not complicate matters,” Zarate said.
On Saturday, the military and police arrested a communist couple in Ozamiz Port, Misamis Occidental.
The military identified the suspects as Lito Elmidolan alias Gary and wife Maria Bella Elmidolan alias Lalay or Thelma, ordnance technical staff and finance staff of the revolutionary movement based in the region.
The military said in spot report that they were arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by a regional trial court for multiple attempted murder.
NDF chief Fidel Agcaoili said all NDF consultants are protected by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) that was recently reinforced during the third round of talks in Rome, Italy.
Arbitrario was accompanied by Roderick Mamuya, a regional liaison of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the New People’s Army.
The two were immediately turned over to the police.
Over the weekend, Duterte ordered the military to arrest those he had released last year to join peace talks between the NDF and the government.
He said he would ask Interpol to issue warrants of arrest against CPP members living abroad, including their founder Jose Maria Sison.
The NDF reiterated that Duterte cannot just order the arrest of their members since they are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee.
Duterte tagged the the CPP-NPA-NDF as a terrorist group following a series of encounters between the NPA and the military in which several soldiers were killed. The attacks came while a rebel-declared unilateral ceasefire was still in place.
Duterte visited the wakes of the soldiers who were killed by the NPA in different areas of Mindanao.
On Sunday, a rebel was killed when his group encountered soldiers from the 76th Infantry Battalion Sunday in Sitio Kalibun Libunan, Barangay Pinagturilan, Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro.
1st Lt. Xy-zon Meneses, spokesman of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said the encounter happened at around 2p.m.
“The [rebels] were believed to be part of [a] group that attacked a security detachment in Nasugbu, Batangas last Jan. 31.... The firefight lasted for 30 minutes and resulted in the death of one NPA [rebel],” Meneses said.
Soldiers seized two improvised bombs, a cal. 45 pistol with magazine, magazines of the M16A1, a pair of binoculars and four backpacks containing personal belongings and documents.
Clashes between government troops and rebels were also reported in Barangay Hinimbangan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte; in Barangay Cabatangan, Lambunao, Iloilo; and in Sitio Bantolinao, Barangay Amutag, Aroroy, Masbate, on Saturday, but no casualties were reported.
In the Masbate encounter, the military said they recovered a Garand rifle, an SAS-12 shotgun with ammunition, an improvised shotgun, a cal. 38, a short M16 magazine fully loaded, two improvised bombs and documents.
Duterte on Monday continued his tirades against communist rebels, branding them “spoiled brats” for asking too much from the government.
“I tried my best to make peace with everybody... But these communists, they’re spoiled brats. They make demands as if they’re the government. They said [they would rescind their ceasefire] Feb. 10 but they already killed my soldiers, even the police. Sons-of-bitches, now we’re at war,” Duterte said.
“Peace is not possible during our generation. I’m sorry. I’m not about to talk to them again,” he said.
Duterte told reporters that he no longer was interested in negotiating with the communists who had fooled him.
He also reiterated that he would not give in to their demands that he release all political prisoners.
“I released their leaders to enable them to go to Oslo. I released the Tiamzons, the ideologues. But from six, it became 18, and now they want 400,” the President said.
“They said that they’re already excempted [from arrest], but once they arrive here… they will be arrested and they should go back to prison,” he added.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the 17 consultants of the NDF who participated in the peace talks would be rearrested.
“Once they turn themselves in or are arrested, they will be returned to their detention,” Aguirre said.
NDF legal consultant Edre Olalia, however, said consultants released on bail cannot be arrested again, even if Duterte ordered it.
Olalia said the peace talks had not been properly terminated, so the consultants still enjoyed immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation. With Maricel V. Cruz, Sara Susanne D. Fabunan
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