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NDF peace process consultant arrested in Misamis Oriental

Police arrested a peace process consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) for robbery in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, on Friday, November 27.

Police from Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, arrested Wilfredo "Ka Paris" Mapano, who is now working for the state-owned Phividec Industrial Authority. They had a warrant for Mapano's arrest issued by Judge Hector Salise of Regional Trial Court Branch 7, 10th Judicial Region, based in Bayugan.  

Tagoloan police chief Captain Mark Dungca said that the Bayugan police team had informed him that they would serve an arrest warrant in Tagoloan but did not specify the suspect.

"Mapano was taken to Bayugan for processing," Dungca said.

Mapano, alleged former head of the Communist Party in Northern Mindanao, had been an NDF consultant since 1986. He had spent nearly 7 years at the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail facing multiple counts of criminal charges including murder, robbery and frustrated murder, but was released on bail on August 17, 2016, when the Duterte administration resumed the peace process.

While the peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDF were stalled, Mapano chose to work at Phividec, a government-owned and -controlled corporation, based in Tagoloan.

Reacting to Mapano’s arrest, National Union of People's Lawyers  (NUPL) president Edre Olalia said that the government has been digging up old cases against NDF consultants to jail them.

"The government are excavating old cases against NDFP consultants in an effort to put them behind bars," Olalia said in a phone interview.

Mapano was arrested on the same day that a Quezon City court convicted couple Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, alleged leaders of the New People’s Army, of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

The Tiamzons are also NDFP consultants.

Olalia added that Mapano, like the Tiamzons, are covered by the 1995 GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which remains effective despite its questionable termination by the Philippine government, and regardless of the status of the peace negotiations. (FAST FACTS: The JASIG in the peace talks)

"The effect of these is that no one will come forward to the peace panel because they already arrested the people that they [government] should talk with," Olalia said.

"Mapano showed that he took the different path by working for the government. This would prompt others to go underground," he added.

Mapano is one of the 22 NDF consultants who were released on bail  to join the formal opening of peace talks between the Duterte administration and the NDF on August 22, 2016.

Talks bogged down in late 2017. Since then, President Rodrigo Duterte had warned that he would "order the mass arrest" of the NDF consultants out on bail. – Rappler.com