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Arrest of peace worker dooms talks with Reds

LUCENA CITY — The arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rey Casambre is another nail in the coffin of the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels.

NDFP chair Fidel Agcaoili said on Saturday that Casambre was the fourth NDFP consultant to be arrested this year.

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“The Duterte regime’s unjust arrest of Casambre on ludicrous charges virtually closes the doors to any possibility of resuming the peace negotiations,” Agcaoili said in a statement.

Casambre, 67, and his wife Patricia Cora, 72, were arrested in Bacoor, Cavite, on Friday while on board their car on the strength of a warrant for murder and attempted murder issued by a regional trial court in Lupon, Davao Oriental.

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Peace worker

He is also the executive director of the nongovernment Philippine Peace Center, and his wife a translator for the group.

Both suffer from diabetes.

Police claimed they recovered from Casambre a .45-caliber pistol, a fragmentation grenade, detonating cord and several bullets.

“As was done to the other arrested NDFP consultants, the arresting team planted firearms, ammunition and explosives in the Casambre’s vehicle to ensure their prolonged and unjust detention,” Agcaoili said.

The crime of murder is ordinarily nonbailable, unless the court finds weak evidence to warrant prosecution.

Bigger plan

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Illegal possession of firearms, however, is ordinarily bailable under Republic Act No. 10591, but the possession of explosives or any of its parts is nonbailable under Republic Act No.  9516.

Agcaoili said three other NDFP consultants—Vicente Ladlad, Adelberto Silva and Rafael Baylosis—were also arrested on similar charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

All of them are still detained pending the resolution of their cases.

Silva was arrested with four others in Santa Cruz, Laguna, on Oct. 15, while Baylosis was arrested in Quezon City, on Jan. 31.

Agcaoili said the arrests were part of a bigger plan to harass people who contributed to the peace negotiations.

The Communist Party of the Philippines said the harassment signified President Rodrigo Duterte’s “worsening fascist clampdown and de facto martial law rule” to suppress opposition groups.

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TAGS: CPP, Fidel Agcaoili, murder case, NDFP, NPA, Patricia Cora, Philippine Peace Center, Philippine peace talks, Rey Casambre
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