The Palace said Thursday that the sudden arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Vicente Ladlad was not a violation of the provisions of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the JASIG, an agreement which essentially guarantees the immunity and safety of individuals involved in the peace talks, is not currently in force as the peace talks between the Duterte administration and the NDFP have already been terminated.
“The JASIG is operative only if there are peace talks ongoing, but that has been terminated by the proclamation of the President on Nov. 23, 2017. Secondly, the crime of rebellion is a continuing crime and therefore no warrant of arrest is needed for that,” Panelo said.
Panelo said other consultants covered by the JASIG can be arrested by the government any time since peace talks were already terminated.
Ladlad, a long-time activist and peace advocate, was arrested early Thursday by police.
Fides Lim, Ladlad’s wife took to Facebook and announced the disappearance of her husband, claiming that members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group “abducted” Ladlad.
“Arresting unit can only be the CIDG which tailed me last week. Please help me look for Vic,” she said, expressing worries about his health, as he suffers from chronic asthma, which has already deteriorated into emphysema.
Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison was quick to speculate that Ladlad could have been framed by the Duterte administration as he claimed there is no warrant of arrest issued against the NDFP consultant.
“There is no valid warrant of arrest against him. But in the Duterte scheme, he is likely to be framed as a combatant with firearms and explosives planted despite his serious health condition,” he said.
Earlier reports said Ladlad was arrested for charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosGovtives in Novaliches, Quezon City.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., lauded law enforcement agents and the concerned citizen who helped in the arrest of Ladlad.
“I would like to commend the swift response of the authorities and the concerned citizen for the arrest of these notorious personalities. The people’s vigilance has been an important aspect of our security operations and has been valuable in the fight against terrorism,” Galvez said in a statement.
The AFP chief also stressed the importance of cooperation in the security sector to curb terror groups and their leaders.
“The AFP and PNP (Philippine National Police) in [their] unrelenting pursuit of peace and prosperity will be hitting them in all fronts. The apprehension of Ladlad will create a leadership vacuum in their organization which will speed up the process of defeating insurgency in the country,” Galvez added.
He added that since the assumption of President Rodrigo Duterte, 54 prominent communist personalities have been neutralized. This has resulted in the disruption of internal coordination of the rebel group from the national level down to the New People’s Army (NPA) platoons.
“The leadership vacuum led the insurgents to fall complacent, causing the stagnation and decline in their major fields of work in launching the armed struggle,” the AFP chief added.
Ladlad is a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Central Committee, head of its National United Front Commission, and consultant to its now defunct peace negotiations.
Ladlad and his aides, Alberto and Virginia Villamor, were arrested in his alleged safehouse in Doña Tomasa Subdivision, Barangay San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City early Thursday.
Police said they found an AK-47, one M-16A1, one Colt Mk IV, four hand grenades, and assorted ammunition during the raid.
Ladlad is accused of involvement in the multiple murder cases for the purging of communist members tagged by the CPP leadership as government spies in their organization.
At least 67 bodies were unearthed in September 2006 involving the Southern Leyte Front of the NPA.
Ladlad was among those in the CPP who were charged with multiple counts of murder over the massacre.
Also charged were Adelberto Silva, head of the National Organization Department and Secretary General of the CPP. He was arrested in Laguna in October.
But PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said Ladlad and two others were arrested for illegal possession of firearms, not their affiliation with the communists.
He added that Ladlad could not hide behind the JASIC because they broke the law. With PNAREAD: Reds won’t fall for Rody’s trap
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