MANILA, Philippines – A leader of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in Southern Luzon was arrested while seeking treatment at a hospital in San Juan City on Monday night, November 25, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Tuesday, November 26.
Police and military personnel arrested Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla, spokesperson of the NPA’s Southern Tagalog Melito Glor Command, and 3 other persons accompanying him at Cardinal Santos Medical Center at around 8 pm.
Padilla is also a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines' (CPP) central committee, and the Deputy Secretary of the NPA’s sub-regional military area 4D that operates in the Mindoro provinces, the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division said in a statement.
A warrant for Padilla’s arrest was earlier issued by Branch 46 of the Regional Trial Court in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.
In a separate statement, PNP National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Brigadier General Debold Sinas said Padilla accused of 4 counts of murder, and kidnapping.
Said to be in his 60s, Padilla was seeking treatment for complications from hypertension. He has since been placed under the custody of the PNP NCRPO in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
His 3 companions will be charged with harboring a “wanted person,” Sinas added.
AFP Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay said Padilla’s arrest “only shows that the enemies of the state cannot and will never be able to evade the long arm of the law, and that sooner than later, justice will be served for all the terroristic actions that they have been committing against our country and people.”
On Tuesday, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the CPP-NPA, “strongly condemned” Padilla’s arrest, calling it “illegal.”
In a statement posted on its website, the NDFP said Padilla’s condition is sensitive due to heart disease, and his arrest puts his life in danger.
"Ipinapakita lang ng pangyayari sa iligal na pag-aresto kay Ka Diego na walang anumang pagrespeto ang administrasyong Duterte sa karapatang pantao ni Ka Diego Padilla na sumailalim sa medikasyon,” the NDFP said. (Ka Diego’s illegal arrest shows that the Duterte administration has no respect whatsoever for the human right of Ka Diego Padilla to undergo medication.)
The Duterte administration has instead pushed for “localized peace talks” through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), created in December 2018, with the goal of holding negotiations between local government units and local fronts of the communist rebels, encouraging guerrillas to surrender.
The CPP-NPA-NDF rebellion started in 1969 and is now Asia’s longest-running insurgency. It had about 25,000 guerrillas at its peak in the late 1980s, but its numbers have since dwindled to about 3,000 to 4,000 according to the AFP. The fighting between government forces and the rebels have has killed thousands. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.