By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Army (PA) Thursday said National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant and former Catholic priest Francisco Fernandez and his wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, were accommodated and given appropriate medical treatment at the Army General Hospital (AGH) following their arrest on Sunday, March 24, 2019.
Fernandez and his wife were arrested by personnel of the Laguna Provincial Police Office by virtue of a warrant of arrest for murder and for violating Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act when several pistols and grenades were found in his possession in his residence in Nagcarlan, Laguna.
According to Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia, Negros Occidental, Fernandez is Secretary of the New People’s Army Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros and has four standing arrest warrants for murder.
“It took some time before we got a breakthrough on the location of Frank Fernandez,” Arevalo said, pointing out that the Army’s efforts became a law enforcement operation wherein the Philippine National Police carried out the apprehension based on the warrants of arrest issued by the courts.
After the arrest, the couple was initially brought to the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa to undergo physical examination when Fernandez complained of chest pains. They were eventually transported to AGH upon the request of P/Brig. Gen. Chief Edward Carranza, CALABARZON Regional Director for security reasons.
“We have received information that some of his comrades will attempt to free the couple from our custody. The police has primary custodial responsibility over the couple but we requested the Army, which has secondary responsibility, to accommodate them in their secure medical facility,” Carranza said.
Meanwhile, Army Spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, assured the public that Fernandez’ medical needs were being provided and his rights are upheld.
“Our doctors all have taken their Hippocratic Oath and do not discriminate against anyone who needs medical attention,” he said.