MANILA – National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Vic Ladlad has been arrested for illegal possession of firearms, the Philippine National Police said.
Ladlad and two others – Alberto and Virginia Villamor – were caught in Novaliches, Quezon City, PNP spokesman Benigno Durana Jr. said Thursday.
Joint forces of the National Capital Region Police Office, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Special Action Force conducted the operation.
“Yes, (Ladlad) was arrested with two others with their high-powered firearms and explosives,” Durana said. He refused to give further details.
Meanwhile Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes criticized the arrest of Ladlad as an attack against the suspended peace negotiations between the government and the rebels.
“What would the three of them be doing with firearms and explosives? The evidence were obviously planted and only meant to justify his (Ladlad) indefinite detention,” Reyes said in a statement.
“This is again an attack on the peace talks, dimming any hope for its resumption,” he added. “Serious peace negotiations and existing agreements are being set aside in favor of political persecution and fascist measures.”
Moreover, Reyes said recent arrests of peace consultants, including Rafael Baylosis and Adel Silva, showed that the Duterte government is more interested in a military rather than a political solution to the roots of the armed conflict.
For its part the human rights group Karapatan, through Secretary-General Cristina Palabay, told a television interview that Ladlad’s arrest highlights the “climate of impunity” in the country.
“Kami po ay nangangamba na dahil dito sa palalang sitwasyon, with the recent arrest of NDFP consultant Vic Ladlad, nagpapatunay lamang ito na nagpapatuloy ang klima ng impunity sa ating bansa,” said Palabay.
“Iyong pagkaka-aresto po ni Ladlad ay tinuturing po naming paglabag sa Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees,” or JASIG, she said, pointing out that the agreement remains in effect until revoked.
Under the JASIG, NDFP consultants are afforded immunity from “surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution, and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions” for their role in the peace talks./PN