A joint military and police team arrested a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Quezon town, Bukidnon, on Wednesday, September 15.
Adelaida “Loida” Magpatoc, 62, was arrested in Purok 3, Barangay Paitan in Quezon town for alleged robbery with double homicide and damage to properties.
The team – composed of the Army's 88th Infantry Battalion in Maramag town, Quezon town police, and the military’s intelligence units – served Magpatoc a warrant of arrest dated September 3, 2001, signed by Judge Zenaida Placer of Branch 7 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur.
The military said Magpatoc also has a warrant of arrest for alleged murder, issued by Judge Orlando Doyon of RTC Branch 10 in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte.
Magpatoc is detained at the Quezon town police station.
In a statement, Eastern Mindanao commander Lieutenant General Greg Almerol cited the participation of local communities in improving their peace and order stituation.
The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) designated 19 communist leaders as “terrorists” and published the list in May 2021. The ATC claimed the list was based on “verified and validated” information.
Magpatoc was No. 18 in the list that identified her as Ma. Loida Tuzo Magpatoc a.k.a. Eva, Ka Norsen, Bebyang, Byang, Elay, Madam, Gwen, and Adelaide Burlas Tozo.
Magpatoc has been tagged as the head of the Far South Mindanao Committee of the New People's Army (NPA). The National Democratic Front (NDF) had earlier said that Magpatoc is one of the peace consultants “who had been immersing and consulting with the local community folk in the villages of Far South Mindanao."
She was arrested in July 2013 in Davao del Sur, based on the same warrant of arrest served in Barangay Paitan, Quezon. However, she was released on bail on August 18, 2016, to work with the Reciprocal Working Group on Political and Constitutional Reforms (RWG PRC).
Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison earlier questioned the ATC's terrorist list, noting that most of those on the list are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed on February 4, 1995, which provides immunity for individuals or consultants involved in the peace talks.
The Duterte government had said that JASIG is not in effect since President Rodrigo Duterte terminated peace talks in February 2017 – but he reopened talks again in 2018, leading to both sides insisting on their respective version of the validity of the JASIG.
Magpatoc is the latest NDF consultant to be arrested under the Duterte administration. In November 2020, Wilfredo "Ka Paris" Mapano, then working for the state-owned Phividec Industrial Authority, was arrested for alleged robbery in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
Meanwhile, Valencia City Vice Mayor Policarpio Murillo IV, also the command officer of Emergency Operations and Command Center in the city, confirmed Magpatoc underwent COVID-19 testing at the command center on Wednesday.
Magpatoc was responding to questions about a post of the 4th Infantry Division on its official Facebook page saying that Magpatoc had tested positive for the coronavirus based on an antigen test.
“I don’t have information anymore if she (Magpatoc) had to undergo RT-PCR,” Murillo said.
He said the gold standard of COVID-19 testing is the RT-PCR, but following also the DOH guidelines released in October 2020, positive rapid antigen test results administered to persons with COVID-19 symptoms are used to provide immediate treatment and isolation measures.
He told Rappler he could not disclose to anyone Magpatoc’s result as it violates patient’s privacy.
“We could not speak for the military. If they use it for national security, then it is really up to them. For the healthcare sector, we cannot violate this patient-doctor confidentiality,” said Murillo. – Rappler.com
Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.