Top NPA woman guerrilla arrested in Digos City—police

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06:50 AM July 29th, 2013

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DIGOS CITY, Philippines—Philippine police and troops on Sunday captured a woman who is one of the country’s most wanted communist guerrillas, officials said.

Supt. Joe Neil Rojo, Digos City police chief, said Ma. Loida Magpatoc was collared at the overland terminal here around 4 a.m.

Rojo described the 52-year-old guerrilla as the secretary of the New People’s Army’s Far South Mindanao Region Command, adding she has outstanding arrest warrants for homicide and destruction of property.

No other details of the operation were released.

The national police described Magpatoc as one of the country’s “most wanted” insurgents with a reward of P5.6 million ($130,000) offered for her capture.

Capt. William Alfred Rodriguez, spokesman of the Army’s 1002nd Infantry Brigade based in Malungon, Sarangani province, said Magpatoc’s arrest served as a big blow to the NPA.

“She’s considered one of the big fishes,” Rodriguez said.

The NPA is the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines and has been waging a Maoist rebellion since 1969.

The insurgency, one of Asia’s longest, has left at least 30,000 dead, the military has said.

The military estimates the rebels now have about 4,000 fighters, down from a peak of roughly 26,000 in the 1980s.

President Benigno Aquino had been aiming to end the rebellion before his six-year term expires in 2016, but the government said in April that peace talks had collapsed.

The government blamed repeated demands by the NPA for comrades to be released from jail, as well as frequent attacks, for the failure of the talks.

Aquino’s chief peace adviser, Teresita Deles, said Sunday that in the absence of a ceasefire government forces would continue their crackdown on the rebels.

“Regular law enforcement activities continue against them,” she told AFP.

Since the talks bogged down in April, the rebels have intensified their attacks against government targets, leaving at least 40 civilians, policemen and soldiers dead, according to military figures.

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