Police, military out to arrest NDF consultants Mapano and Cudaste

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 08 Feb) — Police and Army teams have been deployed to arrest National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultants Alfredo Mapano and Pedro Cudaste, Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division said.

But Martinez said the teams failed to find Mapano and Cudaste in their  known residences and hangouts.

“We will continue to search for them as ordered by our President,” Martinez said.

Speaking to reporters here Sunday night after attending the wake of three soldiers slain by the New People’s Army (NPA) on February 1, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of all NDF consultants who were temporarily released on bail in August to participate in the peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway.

Mapano and Cudaste now appear to be on the run, according to Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Emano.

“I heard Mapano can no longer be found in his house,” he said.

He dismissed rumors he is hiding Mapano from the Army and the police.

“I will surrender him to the police if I found him. I am a law-abiding citizen,” he said.

In a one-page notice, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza notified NDF chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison and peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoli that it has terminated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees or JASIG.

“Following the President’s announcement of the cancellation of the peace talks between the CPP- NPA-NDF and per his instructions, the government is herby serving this notice of termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG),” Dureza said.

He said that despite the cancellation of the peace talks, the Duterte administration “remains committed in its peace efforts by continuing with resolve to explore all opportunities to intensify implementation of genuine reforms for the benefit of the people, particularly socio-economic programs in conflict-affected communities.”

“It shall also continue to pursue other paths to peace and undertake all forms of peace initiatives and peacebuilding efforts at the national, regional and local levels to keep the peace,” he said.

In response, NDF peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili acknowledged receipt of Dureza’s letter, describing it as an “odd message… since it only terminates the JASIG and not the peace negotiations but has the same effect.”

“It is not like the written notice of termination sent by President Estrada before. But Dureza’s notice will do in effectively terminating the peace negotiations. This is not the first time that an all out war has been declared against the revolutionary forces. President Cory Aquino did it in 1987 after the Mendiola massacre. Estrada too after signing the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement).

“We are used to these threats. The revolutionary movement will persist and continue the struggle for the national and social liberation of the Filipino people to bring about a just and lasting peace in the country,” Agcaoili said.

The JASIG protects NDF personalities, including political prisoners released to participate in the peace negotiations, from hostile government actions like harassment, arrest and interrogation.

On Monday, barely 15 hours after Duterte announced the arrest of NDF consultants, NDF consultant Ariel Arbitarrio and a companion were arrested in a military checkpoint in Sirawan, Toril in Davao City.   (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)