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Red leader nabbed in QC

A consultant to the communist-led umbrella group, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), was the first to fall in the crackdown on the Left that followed President Duterte’s order to terminate peace talks to end the decades-long insurgency in the country.

Rafael Baylosis, 69, was arrested along with his aide, Guillermo Roque, on Wednesday in Quezon City by a joint team of police and military intelligence agents. Both men are detained in Camp Crame.

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“Baylosis is believed to be the acting secretary of the New People’s Army (NPA),” the Philippine National Police spokesperson, Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, said on Thursday, referring to the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison and former NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni said the arrest of Baylosis violated an agreement on immunity from arrest and harassment granted to consultants of both government and rebel peace panels.

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“Every arrest of an NDFP peace negotiator or a consultant makes the resumption of peace negotiations more difficult,” Sison said in a statement sent to the Inquirer on Thursday from the Netherlands, where he lives in exile.

The President must be held accountable for the violation of the 1995 Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), said Jalandoni, who demanded the immediate release of Baylosis and Roque.

Baylosis was among nearly two dozen NDFP consultants, including some freed from jail like former CPP chair Benito Tiamzon, who were allowed by the government to travel abroad to participate in the talks shortly after Mr. Duterte took office in June 2016. There were high hopes then for a peaceful end to nearly half a century of Maoist insurgency in the country.

Bail not yet finished

Baylosis is facing murder charges in connection with the killing of suspected government spies in 2006 in Leyte province. He has denied any involvement in the deaths. His bail had not yet been revoked by the court when he was arrested.

Baylosis served as a member of the NDFP panel headed by Tiamzon in a bilateral working group that tackled political and constitutional reforms before the talks were aborted, according to Edre Olalia, the NDFP’s legal consultant.

After terminating peace talks and declaring the CPP-NPA terrorist organizations last December, the President last Saturday said the “enemies of the state” could expect the full force of the government because “my orders are really … to destroy the apparatus” of the insurgency.

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Mr. Duterte said the PNP and the military would also go after left-wing organizations, accusing them of being communist fronts.

Baylosis and Roque were nabbed by joint teams of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the National Capital Region Police Office, the Manila Police District Intelligence Division, the Quezon City Police District, the PNP Intelligence Group, and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

 ‘Incredible story’

According to a CIDG report, the agents were responding to reports about the presence of armed men in Quezon City “who turned out to be Rafael Baylosis, acting secretary, New People’s Army and his buddy, Guillermo Roque.”

“Their story is incredible,” said Rachel Pastores, a lawyer for Baylosis from the Public Interest Law Center, who condemned the arrest.

“It is a violation of his rights. It does not mean that without peace talks he has no rights,” she said.

Baylosis, who suffers from a heart ailment, was “simply walking” on the street with Roque, when six armed men pounced on them and whisked them away to the police headquarters without reading them their rights or showing them warrants of arrest, she said.

“He and his companion now face fabricated, trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms,” she said.

PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the arrest was the product of intelligence operations.

“We cannot allow them to just wander around when they are creating problems for the country.  They are enemies of the state,” he said.

 ‘Draconian rule’

Rather than persecuting NDFP consultants, the President should resume the talks, Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said in a statement.

Reyes himself is facing charges of direct assault with physical injury, resistance and disobedience to a person in authority, and violating the Public Assembly Act of 1985 in connection with the Nov. 13 rally against US President Donald Trump during the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila.

Also slapped with the same charges were Vencer Crisostomo, chair of the youth group Anakbayan, his secretary general Einstein Recedes, and Rep. Carlos Zarate and Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna.

“Undoubtedly, this is Duterte’s crackdown in action” Anakbayan said in a statement.

Zarate said the cases filed against him by the Manila police was “nothing but a calibrated harassment against members of the Left.”

“This is police impunity and draconian rule under the Duterte administration,” Zarate said. —WITH REPORTS FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH, AFP

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TAGS: arrest, Baylosis, duterte, NDF
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