DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 2, 2011) – Police captured a senior communist rebel leader in the southern Philippines ahead of a planned peace talks aimed at ending decades of bloody insurgency in the country.
Elite commandos raided a house in Davao City’s Toril district where New People’s Army leader Edwin Brigano was captured at dawn on Saturday. Brigano was later handed over to the military where he is being interrogated.
The New People’s Army condemned the arrest and accused the police of violating a government truce. It said Brigano’s arrest could imperil the peace talks.
Police said the 53-year old rebel leader is facing a string of criminal charges.
“Comrade Edwin's arrest is a blatant display of treachery. It brazenly violated the self-declared ceasefire of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines -- an act that could only imperil the GRP-National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace initiatives. The trumped up robbery with homicide charges immediately slapped against Comrade Edwin are lame attempts to justify his illegal arrest that clearly violated the mutual and simultaneous 19-day holiday truce,” said Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman.
He said Brigano is sick and suffering from serious respiratory illness, hepatitis and could hardly walk when police forces arrested him.
“Comrade Edwin is undergoing medical treatment for serious respiratory illness, hepatitis and has difficulty walking,” he said, adding Brigano is behind held by the Army’s 10th Infantry Division in Davao City.
“The New People's Army demands that Comrade Edwin be immediately released. His treacherous arrest and incarceration only highlighted the non-compliance of the regime's fascist machinery to its own ceasefire declaration,” Sanchez added.
The New People’s Army is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which is waging secessionist war for decades now. President Benigno Aquino said he would resume peace talks with the rebels in an effort to put an end to communist insurgency in the country.
Aquino last year ordered the release of members of the so-called Morong 43, who were accused by the military as members of the rebel group.
Members of the Morong 43 were captured by soldiers in February 6 in the town of Morong in Rizal province allegedly while manufacturing improvised explosives, an accusation they strongly denied, saying, they were only conducting health training and seminar on a village when security forces arrested them.
The release of the Morong 43 came after rebels demanded Aquino to free the health workers before Manila can resume stalled peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines. Aquino said he would also free political prisoners. Many soldiers and military officers said they were disgusted over the release of the Morong 43.
Peace talks collapsed in 2004 after rebels accused then President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements, among them the release of all political prisoners in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)