NPA couple nabbed in Ozamiz

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 06 Feb) — An alleged bomb-making expert of the New People’s Army (NPA) and his wife were arrested by a joint police and Army team as they were about to board a ferry in Ozamiz City last Saturday, police said.

Sr. Supt. Jaysen de Guzman, Misamis Occidental police director said Lito Elmedolan and his wife, Ma. Bella, were arrested at the Ozamiz  Seaport in Barangay Triunfo last Saturday, February 4.

De Guzman said Elmedolan’s wife, Ma. Bella, is also on top of the wanted list as  member, allegedly, of the NPA’s Mindanao Finance Commission.

The couple’s arrest came a day after President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the unilateral ceasefire he declared last year,  before the first round of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Oslo, Norway.  The NDF represents the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in the peace negotiations.

Duterte’s lifting of the ceasefire was in response to the February 1 announcement of NPA spokesperson Jorge Madlos, that they were terminating their unilateral ceasefire by 11:59 p.m. on February 10.

Duterte on Sunday night (Feb. 5)  suspended the talks, citing alleged “unreasonable demands” of the communist rebels to have nearly 400 political prisoners released, and the killing of three soldiers in an ambush allegedly perpetrated by  the NPA in Malaybalay City and a junior officer in Manay, Davao Oriental,  a few hours after Madlos’ announcement.

“The police and Army unit have been trailing the couple ever since they arrived in Misamis Occidental from Agusan del Sur,” de Guzman said.

De Guzman said Elmedolan is an expert in electrical circuitry and is one of the most capable makers of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the NPA.

He said the couple is facing a multiple frustrated murder case and Regional Trial Executive Judge Kimal Salacop of branch 6 in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur has issued warrants for the arrest of the couple.

Salacop fixed the bail bond at P120,000 each.

On Monday,  NDF consultant Ariel Arbitrario and a companion were arrested (see other story) in a military checkpoint in Davao City at 9:21 a.m., barely 15 hours after President Duterte issued an order in Cagayan de Oro City  to arrest NDF consultants who were released last year to participate in the peace talks.

Duterte on Sunday night declared the NDF a “terrorist group.”  (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)