NPA decries ceasefire violation with the arrest of a comrade in Toril

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 January) — The Communist New People’s Army said the government has violated the mutually-declared ceasefire with the NPA, with the New Year’s day arrest of their comrade Edwin Brigano in Toril district.

Rigoberto F. Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA’s  Merardo Arce Command, said Brigano, 53,was arrested at 3 am on January 1 in Baliok, Bago Gallera in Toril despite the 19-day ceasefire between the government and the Communist National Democratic Front (NDF) to pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks.

Sanchez said in an emailed statement that Brigano is undergoing medical treatment for serious respiratory illness, hepatitis and has difficulty walking.  He also said  that Brigano’s arrest could “imperil” the scheduled talks.

Members of Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police raided the house of the relatives of Brigano’s wife, where the latter was reportedly staying temporarily to seek medical help.

Sanchez also learned Brigano was later brought to the PNP’s CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) and later to the 10th Infantry Division-AFP’s Camp Panacan in Davao City.

Sachez said the arrest was a violation of the 19-day ceasefire between the government and the New People’s Army, which started on December 16 and will end midnight of January 3.

The communist-led underground group demanded for Brigano’s release.

“Comrade Edwin’s arrest is a blatant display of treachery,” Sanchez said. ”It brazenly violated the self-declared ceasefire of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) — an act that could only imperil the GRP-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace initiatives.” “His treacherous arrest and incarceration only highlighted the non-compliance of the regime’s fascist machinery to its own ceasefire declaration,” Sanchez said in the statement.

“The trumped up robbery with homicide charges immediately slapped against him are lame attempts to justify his illegal arrest that clearly violated the mutual and simultaneous 19-day holiday truce,” Sanchez added.

Earlier, Lt. Col. Medel Aguilar, the 10th ID spokesperson reported a “zero-violation” of the mutually-agreed truce in Southern Mindanao and the 10th ID area of responsibility as both sides faithfully followed the agreed ceasefire.

MindaNews sought Aguilar for comment but as of 9:30 p.m., he  could not be reached by phone. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)