Human rights groups condemn arrests of NPA leader, bishop
PAGADIAN CITY – Human rights groups condemned the recent arrest of a communist rebel leader and a bishop at a military checkpoint in Ozamiz City in the southern Filipino province of Misamis Occidental.
Barug Katungod Mindanao accused the military of false charges against Rommel Salinas, of the New People’s Army, who is wanted by authorities for a string of murder cases and other high-profile crimes in western Mindanao.
A grenade was also recovered by security forces from Salinas’ possession.
Salinas was with Bishop Carlo Morales, of the Philippine Independent Church, the country’s second largest Christian denomination. Morales was with his wife, Teofina, and their driver Sadome Dalid, in a van when security forces flagged down the vehicle following intelligence report that it was transporting a senior rebel leader.
All four did not resist arrest and are being investigated separately by the police. It was not immediately known why Morales and his wife were with the NPA leader or if they were protecting Salinas.
Brigadier General Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said the arrest of Salinas was the result of a long intelligence work. “Best coordination work from the community, LGU (local government units), PNP (Philippine National Police), and the Army led to the capture of one of the highest ranking CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-new People’s Army) leader in Western Mindanao,” he said in a statement following the capture of Salinas.
The NPA, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, did not issue any statement, but the rebel group has been fighting for many decades now for the establishment of a communist state in the country.