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Communist consultant in peace talks eludes military arrest

A consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for the peace negotiations with the government eluded arrest in Teresa, Rizal on Tuesday, a military official said.

Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., commander of the Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade, said troops were about to arrest Tirso Alcantara alias “Ka Bart”, a former commander of the New People’s Army (NPA), and Armando Lazarte alias Pat/Romano, secretary of the NPA’s Sub-Regional Military area in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon).

“He is too slippery and that is why we were not able to arrest him again,” Burgos told reporters.

He said Alcantara was first spotted at a village in Umiray, Quezon in May this year.

Burgos said government troops and agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were about to serve the warrant to Alcantara at the Rizal farm where they found firearms instead.

Recovered were four M653 or baby armalite rifles, one M203 Grenade launcher, five US-made 12-gauge shotguns, one caliber .45 pistol, one caliber .38 revolver, one 9-millimeter KG3 machine pistol, six units of two-way radios, two grenades, eight cellphones, documents and numerous war materials.

Alcantara was among the political detainees who was freed and made a consultant in the peace talks between the Duterte administration and communist rebels after President Rodrigo Duterte expressed openness to resume negotiations in 2016.

However, Alcantara, along with 20 others, were ordered rearrested by the government after Duterte scrapped the peace talks in 2017 after communist leader Jose Ma. Sison ordered no let-up in rebel attacks against soldiers despite an agreed truce. DEMPSEY REYES

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