Reds demand release of ‘ailing’ NPA leader

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    THE Communist Party of the Philippines yesterday demanded the release of a New People’s Army leader and his three companions who were arrested at a San Juan City hospital on Monday night.

    In a statement, the CPP said Jaime Padilla, alias Ka Diego, “is in his senior years, is suffering from heart problems and various physical ailments.”

    The 60-year-old Padilla is the spokesman of the NPA’s Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee, deputy secretary of the Sub-Regional Military Area 4D, and a member of the CPP whose armed wing is the NPA.

    He was nabbed while about to be discharged from the Cardinal Santos Medical Santos in Greenhills West, where he sought treatment for hypertension, according to the police.

    Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division based in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, on Tuesday said “NPA leaders are enjoying premium health care using money out of their extortion activities” while Capt. Jayrald Ternio, 2nd ID spokesman, said Padilla was nabbed in a private room at a “high-end medical facility.”

    The CPP said Padilla was brought to the hospital to undergo “diagnostics and medical treatment.” It also said Padilla’s hospitalization was made possible by “material support and various assistance of friends and allies of the CPP and NPA.”

    “The CPP demands the immediate release of Ka Diego and his three companions and the dropping of all trumped-up criminal charges filed against him to prolong his detention,” the CPP said.

    Padilla had arrest warrants for four counts of murder, the police said. He and his companions are under the custody of the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

    Arrested with Padilla were his guards — Rey Rafa, Jefren Banjawan, and Kay Ann Trogon — who the police said will be charged for harboring a wanted person.

    “He must be given full access to his lawyers as well as doctors and medical care services.

    The Party demands that he be accorded full respect which he deserves as a revolutionary activist and humble servant of the people,” the CPP added.

    The CPP said the “toiling masses” of Southern Tagalog treats the arrest of Padilla “as a setback to their revolutionary cause.”

    “In the past three years, the NPA spokesperson has ably represented the NPA forces in Southern Tagalog in his interaction with the media and the public in general,” the CPP said of Padilla.

    The CPP said the military has long wanted to “silence” Padilla.

    Interior Secretary Eduardo Año commended the PNP and the Armed Forces for Padilla’s arrest. He said the feat was a result of relentless efforts to go after the enemies of state.