A NEW People’s Army official and his three guards were arrested by a joint team of policemen and soldiers on Monday night at a hospital in San Juan City.
The police said Jaime Padilla alias Diego, 60, was seeking treatment for hypertension. The military could not immediately say Padilla’s ailment was but described the hospital as a “high-end” facility.
Padilla was arrested at around 7:30 p.m. Monday at a private room of the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in Greenhills West by virtue of arrest warrants for four counts of murder.
“This accomplishment shows us the disheartening reality that while ordinary rebels whom they deceived to take up arms against the government are deprived of decent medical attention, NPA leaders are enjoying premium health care using money out of their extortion activities,” said Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division based in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.
Burgos also said Padilla is the spokesman of the NPA’s Southern Regional Party Committee, deputy secretary of the Sub-Regional Military Area 4D, and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Also arrested were three men who were guarding Padilla at the hospital, namely Rey Rafa, 30; Jefren Banjawan, 26; and Kay Ann Trogon, 27.
Police are checking if the three have links to the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and if they have arrest warrants, said Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office.
Sinas said the three will be charged for harboring a wanted person.
On Padilla, Sinas said he was confined for hypertension and was due for discharge when he was arrested.
Burgos said Padilla’s arrest is a “decisive blow” to the communists as it will lead to “further demoralization among their ranks brought about by leadership vacuum, thus, further pushing them on the brink of collapse.”
Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, chief of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, said Padilla’s arrest proves “the enemies of the state cannot and will never be able to evade the long arm of the law and that sooner than later, justice will be served for all the terroristic actions that they have been committing against our country and people.”
He urged NPA rebels to surrender and avail of the government’s re-integration program “because government forces are slowly but surely closing in to take them down.”