THE government announced Friday the arrest of Rommel Dorango Salinas, said to be the secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines, in Ozamiz City by local police and elements of the 10th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
A consultant of the left-leaning National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Salinas was arrested at 11 a.m. in Bernard Subdivision, City Hall Drive, Barangay Aguada in Ozamiz.
A warrant of arrest was issued against the 45-year-old in October 2013 for frustrated murder and destructive arson, Ozamiz police personnel said.
Salinas is the second NDF consultant arrested after Rafael Baylosis was nabbed in Quezon City on Wednesday, and following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of the Front, the CPP and its armed wing the New People’s Army as terrorist organizations.
But Salinas’ lawyers said he was arrested long before this week, on May 11, 2017, and has been in detention since then.
Edre U. Olalia, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said in a statement that “the report and press release going the rounds of media giving the wrong impression that he was only arrested yesterday in a subdivision is false and a cheap propaganda stunt to sow terror and confusion.”
Cristina Palabay from the rights group Karapatan also said Salinas has been detained in Ozamiz City since May last year, when he was arrested with Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Carlo Morales, public school teacher Ma. Teofilina Morales, and IFI driver Isadome Dalid.
She said the arrests were for “trumped up charges.”
Meanwhile, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Silvestre Bello III, said the recent arrest of Baylosis was not part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on communists.
Bello said Baylosis was arrested for valid reasons.
Baylosis was arrested with a certain Guillermo Roque near Katipunan Avenue and Aurora Boulevard with two .45 cal. pistols, 14 cartridges, and two magazines.
In a radio interview, Bello said the NDF official had a pending case and assured other NDF consultants without cases that they would not be arrested.
Bello also expressed hope that peace talks between the government and communist rebels will resume, adding that he has already held informal talks with Fidel Agcaoili, chairman of the NDF negotiating panel.
Duterte terminated the peace talks in November 2017, with both sides blaming each other for their failure to observe a ceasefire.
The President signed Proclamation No. 360, formally terminating the peace talks with the communist rebels.
NDFP Executive Committee member Luis Jalandoni said Baylosis’ arrest was illegal, citing their Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees with the government in 1995.
The government, however, said the Jasig is no longer in effect now that the peace talks have been scrubbed.
A Quezon City prosecutor recommended no bail for Baylosis and his companion for the offense of illegal possesion of explosives, police said Friday.
Olalia said the gun and a hand grenade were planted.
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