NDF consultant, two others arrested in Laguna
Authorities arrested a consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) who was a former priest and two suspected communist rebels in a law enforcement operation in Laguna on Sunday.
Capt. Patrick Jay Retumban, spokesman of the 2nd Infantry Division, said the rebels were arrested at their safehouse in the vicinity of Brgy Calumpang, Nagcarlan in Laguna around 5:16 am.
Brigadier General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, said arrested were Frank Fernandez of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, with Cleofe Lagtapo, regional deputy secretary for communications and education, and Geen-Ann Perez, a regional communications staff.
“They were the principal targets of the government troops who were there to serve their warrant of arrest”, he said.
Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde said Fernandez, 71, and a former Catholic priest, has an arrest warrant for murder.
"The law enforcement operation was triggered by the information given by one of their NPA comrades as to their current location which was subsequently validated by locals from Nagcarlan who became suspicious of their actions,” he added.
Retumban said based on government records, “Frank Fernandez is a Catholic priest who was radicalized by NPA ideology in the 1980s and has since been active in the killing of soldiers and Cafgu Active Auxilliaries through SPARU operations particularly in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.”
“Father Frank is also allegedly primarily responsible in the ambush that resulted to the death of Guihulngan’s chief of police sometime July 2017 as well as the ambush perpetrated against soldiers early this year,” he said.
“The intelligence community is currently validating reports that among those apprehended was the priest’s party wife which is a clear violation of the Church’s 'vow of celibacy' and a betrayal of every priest’s devotion to his Catholic flock,” he added.
According to Lt. Col. Jonathan Manio,commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion, “the joint operations resulted to the confiscation of three caliber .45 pistols, three hand grenades, 35 cellular phones, numerous technical gadgets, various war materiel and voluminous enemy documents with high intelligence value.”
Manio said people reported their presence to authorities because of ''unusual behavior.''
“Staying in an abandoned and dilapidated house located in the outskirts of the town and always moving by foot with their backpacks during unholy hours,” he added.
Major General Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, said Fernandez is the sixth NDF consultant arrested since President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled talks peace talks with communist rebels.
Parayno said 17 other NDF consultants who were given safe conduct passes while the peace talks were ongoing remain at large.
Parayno encouraged other rebels to return to the folds of the law.
“We have been hitting them at all fronts and keeping them on the run, thus, I urge the few remaining members of the NPAs to give up their arms and return to mainstream society because sooner or later we will catch them,” Parayno said. Robina Asido/DMS