Vicente “Vic” Ladlad joined the growing list of National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultants arrested since the collapse of peace talks between the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army and the government in 2017.
The 68-year-old former activist was arrested along with Alberto and Virginia Villamor in Novaliches, Quezon City, early on Thursday, November 8 on charges of illegal possession of firearms.
An AK47 with bayonet, an M16A1 assault rifle, two .45 caliber pistols, and 9mm pistol, several loaded magazines, 4 grenades and “subversive” documents were allegedly discovered by the Philippine National Police when the three were arrested.
Ladlad’s wife Fides Lim-Ladlad defended her husband, explaining that the weapons were planted. She challenged the police to conduct a fingerprint test.
She also since explained that her husband could not have been using the firearms allegedly found in his possession on account of his poor heart and lung condition due to emphysema.
Obstruction charges against Lim-Ladlad are being mulled by the PNP after she attempted to block the transport van that carried her husband.
PNP chief Oscar Albayalde, however, said that he is considering forgiving Lim-Ladlad for her actions after she apologized.
She also posted about receiving notice of supposed attempted unauthorized transactions using her husband’s debit card since his arrest.
Lim-Ladlad called the case against her husband “ludicrous,” saying that the charges were fabricated.
“He is not a member of the NPA,” Lim-Ladlad said in a statement.
A number of groups and activists questioned the arrest of Ladlad.
PNP Director general Albayalde shares Duterte’s passion for peddling tall tales. The image of Vic Ladlad and a frail couple tramping around like Rambo is hilarious. Parang Red October lang. Why doesn’t he present people behind notebook of corrupt PNP and AFP officers in Rizal.
— inday espina varona (@indayevarona) November 11, 2018
What would Vic Ladlad, 68, a senior citizen and the two other senior citizens with him, be doing with so much firepower such as an AK-47, M16 rifle, 3 hand guns and several grenades? The so-called evidence are obviously planted, once again making a mockery of the rule of law.
— Renato Reyes, Jr. (@natoreyes) November 8, 2018
State facsism intensifies as its forces continue attacks on different sectors and on activists fighting for genuine change.
PNP currently holds custody of UP Los Baños alumni Vic Ladlad, a peace negotiator, after having illegally arrested him on Wednesday night. pic.twitter.com/bVhounVLkO
— UP CSSC (@upcssc) November 8, 2018
Exiled CPP founder Jose Maria Sison claimed that the arrest of Ladlad and other NDFP consultants was in violation of the 1995 Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, a document signed by the government and the NDFP respecting the rights of those involved in the peace process.
He said in an interview with ANC that Ladlad’s “barbaric” arrest was a violation of the agreement.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, defended the arrest of Ladlad.
He explained that the JASIG was no longer enforced as the government and the rebels already ceased peace talks. No warrant was also necessary for his arrest, he said, as rebellion was a continuing crime.
Arrest since collapse of peace talks
President Rodrigo Duterte in February 2017 called for the mass arrest of the NDFP consultants and peace negotiators who were involved in the once-thriving peace process between his administration and the CPP-NPA led by his former college professor Sison.
He declared that the peace negotiators would be considered “fugitives” and branded the CPP-NPA as a terror group.
Explainer: What happens if CPP-NPA is declared a terror group?
He reiterated his order in December that same year as relations between the government and rebels soured, saying he could order their arrest any day.
“For those who are out temporarily, you just maybe zero in now, because any day, I will order for their mass arrest. There is nothing I can do. You wanted this,” he said at a speech that month.
Among those who have been arrested since are Rafael Baylosis, who was nabbed in Quezon City in February 2018 and Adelberto Silva in October later that year.
Presidential adviser on the peace process Jess Dureza on Monday said that Duterte may meet with rebel negotiators soon.