“Arrest of NPA leader weakens rebels’ operations nationwide” say police.

(The Philippine Star) January 10, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The capture of the New People’s Army (NPA) top leader in Lucena City last week has effectively crippled the rebels’ operational capability nationwide, a ranking police official said yesterday.

The police official said Tirso Alcantara, alias Ka Bart, is a “political commissar” in the NPA’s National Operations Command (NOC) and presides in the group’s national conferences that set forth tactical as well as strategic operational plans.

Alcantara used to be commander of the NPA’s Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC), which was vital and strategic to NPA operations in the whole of Southern Luzon.

“His capture virtually crippled the operations of the NPA nationwide, particularly in Southern Tagalog. This is the reason why officials of the rebels’ National Democratic Front (NDF) are demanding for his early release from custody,” said the source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak about the case.

Reports had it that Alcantara was wounded in the buttocks during a scuffle for a gun while being arrested last Tuesday. He was with another alleged NPA member Apolonio Cuarto, alias Ka Polly, on board a motorcycle when accosted by authorities at a checkpoint in Barangay Ibabang Iyam in Lucena City.

Alcantara and Cuarto were arrested on the strength of 23 arrest warrants, mostly for murder. They were found in possession of a .45 caliber pistol with nine pieces of blasting caps and at least five meters of detonating cord.

Other sources from the PNP said that prior to Alcantara’s capture, he was monitored to have attended a party plenum somewhere in Southern Tagalog late last year.

Sources said since Army and PNP intelligence agents tracking him down could not pinpoint where he was or the plenum’s exact location, they decided to just “wait” for him during their “Christmas break” at the house allegedly owned by his girlfriend identified only as a certain Ka Bea.

Ka Bea is reportedly a sister of Ka Polly and also a relative of one of the members of the so-called Morong 43.

Military and police records of Alcantara, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, indicated that in 1992, before the “great rectification,” he was the political officer of the STRPC. A year later, he became the STRPC’s secretary-general.

The documents also stated that Alcantara was one of the top 10 rebel leaders carrying millions of pesos in rewards for their capture as provided for by a joint order of the Department of Defense and Department of the Interior and Local Government dated April 23, 2009.

Alcantara was listed as the 9th leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA and considered as one of the most wanted in the communist hierarchy, with a P2.6-million reward for his capture.

Top of the list were Jose Maria Sison, CPP chairman with P11-million reward for his arrest, followed by spokesman Gregorio Rosal alias Ka Roger with P6 million.

Francisco Fernandez, alias Ka Frank, secretary of the Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros; Ma. Concepion Araneta-Bocala, alias Ethang, Martha and Concha of the Central Committee, Evangeline Rapanut, Esteban Manuel and Roy Erecre have P5.6-million rewards each on their heads. Like Alcantara, Felimon Mendrez, Domingo Compoc, and Emmanuel Amolot carry P2.6-million rewards for their arrest.

During the CPP’s 10th plenum, Alcantara was designated as the vice chief of staff of the NPA’s national military staff from 1997 to 2004. Later, he became the secretary of the Northern Luzon Commission and promoted as politburo member or policymaking official in 2004.

In their 12th plenum, Alcantara was designated as head of the NPA’s military commission and then as executive committee member until 2008.

In a statement, the CPP said the government should free Alcantara before the resumption of peace talks, tentatively set in Oslo, Norway on Feb. 19-25.

The CPP said Alcantara is among the consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF), representing the CPP-NPA, which is negotiating peace with the government.

Under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), staff, members, and consultants of the NDF who are part of the negotiating panel enjoy immunity from arrest.

CPP wants bargaining chips on peace talk

Meanwhile, the rebels will ask the Aquino administration to stop its privatization and deregulation policies during the formal peace talks in Oslo. In a statement, the CPP claimed that such policies are “anti-people” and have brought “grave hardships” to the public.

“The denationalization, privatization, deregulation and neo-liberalization policies of the Aquino government are among the most onerous and anti-people economic policies imposed by the US imperialists,” CPP said.

“The privatization and deregulation of the water, energy, oil, transportation, communications, health, education and other sectors have subjected the people to the profit whims of foreign and comprador commercial interests,” it added.

The CPP said the government’s public-private partnership program would allow the administration to surpass previous regimes “in terms of subservience to the interests of big foreign and comprador business interests.”

The group said the government has exhibited extra vigor in and defending increases in the toll rates of the South and North Luzon expressways and increases in the fare rates which have triggered hikes in other public transport fares.

Upward adjustments in the toll rates levied at the North Luzon Expressway, the Subic-Clark Tarlac Expressway and the Subic Freeport Expressway took effect last Jan. 1. On the other hand, economic managers approved the proposed fare hikes in Metro Rail Transit and the Light Rail Transit last week.

The CPP scored the Aquino administration for its alleged indifference to the calls for fundamental economic reforms.

Earlier, the communists said they will raise the issues on the JASIG, human rights, and the so-called political prisoners during the preliminary talks with the government this month.

Informal talks between state negotiators and the NDF will be held on Jan. 14 to 18.

The CPP has been waging a protracted Maoist insurgency for more than four decades, which has left more than 40,000 people dead. The government had tried to hold negotiations with the CPP but these efforts failed in 2004 after the United States and the European Union placed them on their list of terror groups.

Talks between the government and the CPP were supposed to resume in Oslo, Norway last year. The negotiations, however, failed after the government rejected a demand to release some consultants of the NDF who are facing criminal charges.

The military has claimed that the strength of the communist movement in the country has been reduced to about 4,100 as of 2010

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