AFP: 'NPA leader arrested' in Laguna
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The police and military arrested an alleged communist rebel leader in San Pedro City, Laguna, on Tuesday, September 17.
Antonia Setias Dizon, who goes by the moniker "Tonet," is the secretary of the organizing department of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command.
Dizon faces a murder case before Branch 7 of the Regional Trial Court in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur, which had issued a warrant for her arrest.
Security officers found a .38 caliber pistol, 48 pieces of live ammunition, mobile phones, computer hard drives, a flag and cap bearing the CPP-NPA logo, and documents of "high intelligence value" in Dizon's possession, the military said.
Dizon is detained at the San Pedro City Police Office.
"The arrest of alias Tonet is another major blow to the NPA terrorists' movement, for it will create a leadership vacuum that will further speed up their imminent defeat," Brigadier General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, chief of the Philippine Army's 2nd Infantry Division, said in a statement on Wednesday, September 18.
Labor rights group Confederation for Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) said on its official Facebook page on Wednesday that Dizon, whom it referred to as "Antonietta," is its former deputy secretary general and a member of its council of elders.
Courage strongly condemned Dizon's "illegal arrest" and called for her immediate release. It said the charges against her were "trumped up," and that according to her family, the police planted the evidence it presented against her.
The group added that Dizon has complained of "harassment and threats to her life" since 2015.
Courage also called on "employees, laborers, and citizens to protest against political repression perpetuated under the reign of [President] Rodrigo Duterte."
Human rights group Karapatan decried Dizon's arrest as part of the government's crackdown on critics.
"The fascist state is showing its desperation in jailing activists through red-tagging and the filing of falsified charges based on flimsy claims and planted evidence," the group's deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor said in a statement.
Karapatan said Dizon is a "union organizer," and "not a 'top NPA leader'" as the military claimed.
The CPP-NPA was declared a terrorist organization by President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2017. The President blamed them for "continued violence" despite efforts at peace negotiations with the government at the time.
Peace talks between the Duterte administration and the CPP-NPA and its political arm, the National Democratic Front, have since bogged down. The government then pushed for "localized peace talks" among local governments and factions of the communist insurgents.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has called for the revival of the anti-subversion law to outlaw membership in the communist party and other progressive groups which he said were "legal fronts" of the CPP-NPA. – Rappler.com