May 27, 2018, 9:58 pm
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Communist leader nabbed; Reds say arrest has no basis

A LEADER of the communist group and a companion were arrested Wednesday in Quezon City in an operation conducted by military and police forces led by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Rafael Baylosis, 69, a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), is the first communist leader to be arrested since President Duterte scrapped peace talks with the Reds in November last year. 

The NDFP said it “strongly condemns the illegal arrest” of Baylosis who, it said, is a member of the “NDFP Reciprocal Working Group on Political and Constitutional Reforms.” It said government should abide by all binding agreements like the Joint Agreement on the Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) with the NDFP and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Baylosis could not hide behind the JASIG because the peace talks have been scrapped. He also said the NDFP could file a petition for habeas corpus if it deems the arrest illegal.

Leftist lawmakers Rep. Antonio Tinio and France Castro (PL, ACT) said the arrest is a violation of the JASIG and accused the President of “persecuting peace consultants instead of pushing for peace and addressing the people’s clamor for social justice and peace.”

Baylosis was nabbed with Roque Guillermo, alleged member of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The two are now detained in Camp Crame.

In 2016, President Duterte ordered the release of about 20 communist personalities, including couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, to allow them to participate in formal peace negotiations between government and the NDFP-CPP-NPA, which his administration resumed in August that year. Duterte in December ordered the re-arrest of the communist leaders and declared the CPP and NPA as terrorist groups.

Baylosis was first jailed for his alleged involvement in the purging of former New People’s Army rebels whose remains were found in a mass grave in Leyte in 2006. 

Lawyer Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center said Baylosis and Roque were arrested supposedly for possession of loaded .45 caliber pistols. 

She said the two came from a dental clinic and had just alighted from a tricycle on Katipunan avenue and Aurora boulevard in Quezon City when combined government agents pounced on them at around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday.

POLICE VERSION 

A sketchy police report said Baylosis and Guillermo were arrested based on intelligence reports that two suspicious-looking men with guns tucked in their waists were spotted at the boundary of Manila and Quezon City Tuesday, prompting the police to form a composite team from the CIDG-National Capital Region, Quezon City Police District, PNP Intelligence Group, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces, Manila Police District, and the National Capital Region Police Office’s regional intelligence division, to conduct surveillance operations.

The report said the two men were again sighted in the area early Wednesday, prompting the operatives to tail them, which eventually led to their arrest at the corner of Katipunan avenue corner Aurora boulevard.

The police report said: “The said suspects sensed the presence of the detectives in the area who even tried to run. This prompted the detectives to conduct interdiction as they are visible with short firearms tucked on their sides.”

It said two caliber .45 pistols, each loaded with seven bullets, were recovered from Baylosis and Guillermo, together with assorted documents. 

Pastores said the government agents tried to get hold of the bag Baylosis was carrying. It was when Baylosis refused to hand over the bag that the agents allegedly found a gun tucked in his waist.

`INCREDIBLE’

Asked if Baylosis and Guillermo were indeed carrying guns at the time of their arrest, Pastores said: “Granting that they have guns, Mr. Baylosis should have hidden it inside the bag which he was carrying. Why would he display it on broad daylight? …That’s incredible.”

Pastores also said the arrest has no basis because “there was no warrant for his arrest issued by the court at the time of his arrest.”

Pastores said what is clear is that government agents could not wait for a court’s resolution regarding the cancellation of her client’s bail. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Wendell Vigilia
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