Bandera (Mindanao) - - Front Page -

A ranking leader of communist rebels and two others were arrested during a raid in Novaliches, Quezon City, before dawn Thursday, authorities said.

Arrested were Vicente Ladlad, member of the Communist Party of the Philippines' Central Committee and head of its National United Front Commission; and his aides Antonio Villamor and Virginia Villamor, National Police chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde said.

Ladlad, also known by the aliases "Eduardo Reyes," "Boss Ed," and "General Reyes," is also among the consultants of the National Democratic Front who had been released and later ordered rearrested by President Duterte after peace talks between the government and rebels broke down.

Ladlad is also among several communist leaders who were charged with multiple murder for the CPP's internal "purge" of members suspected of being government spies in Inopacan, Leyte, Armed Forces public affairs chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.

Soldiers and policemen carried out the raid at a "rebel safehouse" in Brgy. San Bartolome, around 1:30 a.m., National Capital Region Police Office chief Dir. Guillermo Eleazar said.

Operatives found Ladlad and his aides in possession of a Russianmade SKS rifle with bayonet, an M16A1 assault rifle, a caliber-.45 pistol, caliber-.9mm pistol, several magazines and over 100 rounds of ammunition, four hand grenades, and subversive documents, Eleazar said.

Ladlad's wife, Fides, went to the NCRPO headquarters after learning of her husband's arrest, and told reporters that the firearms were "planted."

"Lagi namang ganun ang depensa," Eleazar said, when asked of the allegations.

Operatives coordinated with barangay officials and the homeowners' association before the raid was carried out, and both certified that the raid was carried out in an "orderly manner," he noted.

The operation was carried out following reports, intelligence buildup, and validation that firearms were being kept in the targeted house, Quezon City Police District director Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel said.

Albayalde said the confiscated firearms will be subjected to ballistic tests to determine if these had been used in crimes or other activities, while the documents are set to be studied for possible intelligence value.

"This goes to show that even their consultants are armed. At hindi lang po ito basta-basta armas, high-powered ang mga ito," the PNP chief said.

Albayalde expressed belief that Ladlad's arrest will help "strengthen" localized peace talks, which the government is now pursuing after talks with the communist rebels' top leaders bogged down.

The PNP chief said more arrests of communist rebel leaders are to be expected amid continuing operations, which he liked to the government's war on drugs.

"Parang sa drugs 'yan. Di tayo titigil hangga't meron pang ganyang armado sa kanilang hanay, [but] we are also opening our left hand, [para sa] pagbabalik-loob nila sa batas," Albayalde said. John Roson

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