NPA claim on arrest of ex-rebel disputed

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THE Philippine Army on Sunday denied allegations that it violated a ceasefire with communist rebels who had accused the military of arresting a former guerrilla in Kalinga province.

“He was not arrested. The alleged elderly ex-guerilla opted to return to the folds of the law,” said Col. Benjamin Hao, Army spokesman, referring to 73-year-old Marcos Aggalao.

Hao was reacting to a report of an online news portal quoting Ka Tipon Gil-ayab, spokesman for the Lejo Cawilan Command of the New People’s Army (NPA), who said the military illegally arrested Aggalao alias Ka Munroe.

Gil-ayab claimed that Aggalao retired in 2012 because of old age.

Reports said Aggalao was arrested in Sitio Dalyagan, Barangay Gawaan in Balbalan town on September 11.

But Hao disputed this, saying there was no arrest of NPA members and supporters in Kalinga.

“Since the start of the ceasefire of the government with the NPA, many of their supporters and old members in Northern Luzon, including Marcos Aggalao from Kalinga, voluntarily surrendered to the Philippine Army,” he said.

According to him, after the mass surrender of 69 NPA supporters in Northern Luzon last month, another four reportedly surrendered to the military this month.

All of the surrenderers, Hao said, were sent to and processed by the local Department of Social Welfare and Development in the province.

“The Philippine Army strictly observes the ceasefire with the NPA. The Philippine Army believes that an effective ceasefire is a significant path in attaining peace in our country,” he added.

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