DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A New People’s Army leader who was treated in a hospital at Don Carlos town in Bukidnon was arrested on Saturday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines reported.
Major Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of AFP-Eastern Mindanao Command, identified the NPA leader as Elizalde Cañete alias Ka Jinggoy.
Cañete was arrested in an Inter-agency Law Enforcement operations on May 12 while he was recovering after he was wounded in a gun battle with government troops in Kitaotao, Bukidnon on May 10.
Balagtey said Army and police forces served a warrant of arrest against Cañete, who is facing charges of multiple murder and arson.
Lt. General Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr., Eastmincom commander said in a statement, that ”while he (Cañete) is receiving medical treatment, we will be backing up the Philippine National Police in providing security and in the eventual prosecution of his numerous cases.”
Balagtey said Cañete was first arrested in 2010 in an encounter in Montevista, Compostela Valley and was later released on bail in 2013.
The military reported that Cañete replaced the late Leoncio Pitao also known as Comannder Parago as leader of the Pulang Bagani Command 1 of the NPA that operates in the boundary of Bukidnon, Davao del Norte and the mountainous parts of Davao City.
Call for release
Meanwhile, the Exodus for Justice and Peace which acted as third party facilitator during NPA releases of prisoners of war, called on the military for the release and humane treatment of the arrested communist rebel.
Bishop Hamuel Tequis, convener of EJP, said they made the appeal on humanitarian grounds and in line of the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front.
“This call is ever more important as we are trying to get back on track to peace talks and address the substantial issues of economic reforms. The release will definitely aid in confidence building and create an enabling environment to pursue peace,” said Bishop Tequis.
The EJP also cited the Geneva Convention and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) that ensured wounded combatants or hors de combat, be protected from attacks and be accorded rights to medical care.
The group said they believe that “reciprocity” is needed in civil war saying the NPA has released soldiers and policemen who were held as prisoners of war, “the time now calls on the AFP to reciprocate with its own humanitarian gestures.”
“If heeded by the AFP,” Tequis added, “this will be a significant step to humanize the dire impact of civil war on human lives and, more importantly, to bring forth confidence in the peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP.” (davaotoday.com)