Top Philippines Maoist rebel leader arrested

MANILA: The military announced the arrest of the head of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) who reportedly underwent bomb-making and commando training in Libya and carried a $125,000 bounty on his head. Colonel Generoso Bolina, the regional military spokesman, reported that Benjamin Mendoza, the NPA chief, was captured on Saturday with three of his alleged cohorts including a woman inside the rebels’ “safehouse” in suburban Quezon City, Metro Manila. Bolina said an elite military unit arrested Mendoza through two warrants issued by a regional court in Quezon province in Southern Luzon where he was facing a rebellion complaint.

Citing records, Bolina said Mendoza headed the NPA Southern Luzon regional command as well as a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a Maoist-style insurgency against the government, considered the longest in Asia and the Pacific. In addition, Mendoza underwent commando, bomb-making, heavy weapons and sniper training in Libya from 1981 to 1982, Bolinao said.

He disclosed that Mendoza was allegedly behind the NPA’s intensified campaign to rid the movement of the government’s “deep penetration agents” who were buried in mass graves in Southern Luzon. According to Bolinao, Mendoza planned several successful raids and ambushes on government forces including an attack on a municipal jail in Batangas province that freed nine of their comrades. However, Bolinao admitted the suspects refused to answer questions while undergoing tactical interrogation inside a military compound in Rizal province also in Southern Luzon.

In February 2011, the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) resumed peace talks after a six-year hiatus in Oslo, Norway, which has been retained as the third party facilitator. But negotiations have again bogged down due to what the government has claimed as the rebels’ “unreasonable” demands, mainly for the release of their “consultants” arrested and detained following the filing of charges against them in the courts.

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