NDF: Arrest of top CPP leader illegal
ILOILO CITY—The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on Sunday condemned the arrest of a top rebel leader on Panay Island, insisting that she is a consultant in the peace talks with the government.
The NDFP said the arrest of Maria Concepcion “Concha” Araneta-Bocala in Iloilo City on Saturday was illegal.
“She is a peace consultant of the NDFP for the Visayas. She has been issued Document of Identification No. ND978245 under assumed name Remi Estrella. Her illegal arrest is another flagrant violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees,” Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDFP negotiating panel, said in a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer.
The NDFP, an umbrella organization of underground rebel groups including the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA), demanded the “immediate release” of Bocala, allegedly the secretary of the CPP’s Panay Regional Committee.
Police and military intelligence operatives arrested Bocala at a rented house in Barangay Calumpang, after about a year of intelligence and surveillance operations.
Also arrested were her alleged nephew and an aide or helper.
Bocala, who will turn 65 this month and suffering from ailments including diabetes and pneumonia, has been detained at Camp Martin Delgado, the regional police headquarters in Iloilo City.
Jalandoni said Bocala is a “highly valued peace consultant,” citing her role in the peace talks with the Corazon Aquino administration in 1986 to 1987.
“The Aquino regime is answerable for this shameful disrespect for its solemn obligation to abide by a binding peace agreement,” he said.
But the military said that as head of the CPP and NPA on the island, “(Bocala) is responsible for the atrocities and violence perpetrated by the NPA in Panay.”
Colonel Eric Uchida, commander of Army’s 301st Brigade, said in a statement that the arrest of Bocala was “a serious blow to the CPP-NPA” organization.
“This is a victory for the people of Panay who desire for a just and lasting peace. The victims of CPP-NPA atrocities are expecting that justice will be served with the arrest of Bocala,” Uchida said.
Jalandoni downplayed the effect of Bocala’s arrest on the rebel movement.
“As past experience has shown, the revolutionary movement is able to replace arrested leaders and comrades, and continue the revolutionary struggle. Those arrested have trained many others to take up the responsibilities of carrying forward the struggle for national and social revolution,” he said.
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