By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has commended the police and military for the arrest of Vicente Ladlad, one of the leaders of the communist rebel group.
“Good work,” the President told Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Carlos Galvez Jr. at the Malago clubhouse in Malacañang Park Thursday.
Albayalde and Galvez were among the government officials present during the President’s dialogue with the Mindanao IP Council of Leaders. The group of Lumads has signed a resolution seeking the President’s legal aid in filing cases against the communist rebel group for their atrocities against their communities.
Police and military operatives earlier arrested Ladlad and two others in an operation at a subdivision in Novaliches, Quezon City. Several weapons were reportedly seized from the three.
The Palace earlier defended the lawful arrest of Ladlad, saying he could no longer invoke the safe conduct pass agreement since the peace talks have been terminated by the President. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo also said no arrest warrant was needed since rebellion was considered a “continuing crime.”
Speaking to reporters after the IP dialogue, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the President was pleased with the dialogue with the IP leaders as well as the arrest of Ladlad.
“Good job for the opportunity to talk to the Lumads,” Esperon said.
“It comes at a time that we have also combined forces of the AFP at PNP na makuha si Vicente Ladlad, chair of the united front commission,” he added.
Albayalde, in an earlier press conference, said the arrest of Ladlad stemmed from information from concerned citizens about their possession of loose firearms and explosives.
He insisted that Ladlad could not hide behind Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG) since he violated the law.
“Even probably with JASIG, it will not excuse from being arrested if you are violating the law. It cannot be a reason or blanket to violate the law. We will be treating everybody equal,” he said.
“We expect future arrests if and when the people violate the law,” he added.
Albayalde also denied allegations that the police planted evidence against Ladlad
“The police or armed forces is not engaged in unlawful acts,” he said. “We’re not engaged in planting evidence. These operations are conducted because of intelligence build-up,” he said.