Rearrested NPA leader faces 11 non-bailable charges

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The man described by the government as the successor of one of the most-wanted commanders of the New People’s Army in Mindanao has been transferred to Davao City, after he was arrested in Bukidnon earlier this month.

Elizalde Cañete was turned over by the Don Carlos Municipal Police in Bukidnon to the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Tuesday afternoon, May 29, said Senior Police Inspector Maria Theresita Gaspan, the DCPO spokesperson.

Cañete, more known as Ka Jinggoy, was rearrested on May 12 at Don Carlos Doctors Hospital where he had undergone brain surgery. He was hurt in a firefight with government troops two days earlier in Kitaokitao, according to the NPA in a statement.

According to Gaspan, the NPA leader was facing 11 cases “mostly morder with no bail recommended, all issued by (the) RTC (Regional Trial Court), 11th Judicial Region.”

The military said Cañete took over from Leonicio Pitao, who died in an encounter in 2015. Pitao, better known as Commander Parago, once lead the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Command.

Cañete’s rearrest recently elated President Rodrigo Duterte,  who in his speech here May 24, cited the news and congratulated the military for the action. He said the country is succeeding in its war against the communist insurgency.

But the NPA insisted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines had no right to arrest the leader, saying Cañete is an “hors de combat” – a French term for “outside the fight.”

Citing the international humanitarian law, NPA Southern Mindanao spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez said Cañete “is rightful to avail of protection, respect, and a speedy humanitarian medical treatment and recovery under the international humanitarian law nad/or civilized rules of warfare.”

“(He) does not present any further threat and is incapable of fighting,” Sanchez added.

The 36-year-old NPA leader is allegeldy behind the recent attacks in Davao City, including the attack against Lapanday Foods Corporation, which killed a fish vendor.

He was first arrested in 2010, according to the military, but posted bail 3 years later, returning to the underground movement. --