PNP: ‘Many ways’ to arrest NDF consultants

Bea Cupin
PNP: ‘Many ways’ to arrest NDF consultants
Several National Democratic Front consultants have apparently gone underground following President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncements

MANILA, Philippines – While insisting that they would arrest National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants using only the “rule of law” and proper legal procedures, police said there are “many ways” to nab personalities ordered arrested by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Not necessarily,” said Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Director Roel Obusan on Thursday, February 9, when asked if they needed to wait for court orders.

Duterte earlier said NDF consultants who were released on bail to join the peace talks should be imprisoned again “once they arrive in the Philippines.”

“Maraming paraan – may warrantless, dependent kung mag-commit sila ng crime ngayon, in flagrante delicto namin (There are many ways – there’s warrantless arrest, depending on if they commit the crime now, and we catch them in the act). And remember, rebellion is a continuing crime,” added Obusan.

Among those named were Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, alleged top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The CIDG has been tasked to spearhead efforts to arrest the Tiamzon couple, as well as the following consultants:

  • Vic Ladlad
  • Edelberto Silva
  • Alfonso Jasmines
  • Alfredo Mapano
  • Loida Magpatoc
  • Pedro Cudaste
  • Ruben Saluta
  • Ernesto Lorenzo
  • Porferio Tuna
  • Renante Gamara
  • Tirso Alcantara

Several, if not most, NDF consultants had been in jail for several years for various cases ranging from murder to arson. Courts issued different conditions for their release leading up to the first round of talks between the government and the communists held in Norway.

“Some of them have ongoing cases. They were arrested before because of a case, either there was a warrant or they were caught via inquest because this was an ongoing case. They were released temporarily so they could join our peace efforts. But now they don’t want peace and they want to run, cover in the auspices of what is legal. But you are doing illegal [things],” added the CIDG chief, who is also a lawyer.

Back to the underground

Several NDF consultants have since returned underground after the end of the ceasefire between the two sides, the scrapping of the peace talks, and Duterte’s subsequent decision to terminate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

The JASIG assures NDF negotiators of safe passage and immunity from arrest.

In a letter posted on social media, Ladlad’s wife Fides Lim appealed to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa not to “hurt” her husband and to “recognize his basic rights.”

Ladlad, said Lim, “has left the house since President Duterte announced that arrests will be made.”

“Should you still go to our house to arrest him, please just look for me and I’ll talk to you. We live with my very old parents who are sickly and very fragile. I don’t want your arresting unit to do anything that will upset or bring harm to them and our family,” she wrote.

Another NDF consultant, Kennedy Lao-ing Bangibang, has also apparently gone missing following Duterte’s pronouncements. Bangibang is an NDF consultant for Cordillera and minority affairs. He was arrested in 2013 but was released alongside other political prisoners to join the peace talks.

Bangibang was part of the NDF’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms during the negotiations. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.