The whereabouts of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NFFP) peace consultant Frank Fernandez reportedly nabbed by the police and military in Nagcarlan, Laguna early Sunday morning have yet to be known more than 24 hours after his arrest.
NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said Fernandez, long-time NDFP spokesperson in Negros Island, must be surfaced and released by his captors as soon as possible as he known to be ailing and undergoing treatment.
“The NDFP strongly condemns the unjust arrest of Frank Fernandez and his partner. Frank is a publicly known consultant in the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-NDFP peace negotiations as NDF spokesperson for Negros,” Agcaoili told Kodao.
“He is also known to be ill and requires medical treatment,” Agcaoili added.
In an Inquirer report, Fernandez was arrested at 5:16 a.m. in Barangay Calumpang, in a joint operation of the Philippine Army and Laguna police.
The report added the arrest was confirmed to the Inquirer by three police officials and was undertaken by virtue of an arrest warrant.
Fernandez was the sixth NDFP peace consultant arrested since President Rodrigo Duterte terminated peace negotiations with the Left in November 2017.
Earlier, Rafael Baylosis, Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad and Rey Claro Casambre were arrested in succession late last year after repeated attempts to revive the stalled peace talks failed.
Renante Gamara, NDFP peace consultant for the National Capital Region, was arrested last Wednesday in Imus City, Cavite.
Baylosis was first arrested in January 2018 but was eventually released last January 18 after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court threw out trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against him.
Twelve days later, NDFP peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao was killed inside a bus in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya last January 30.
Last Monday, March 18, Duterte dissolved the GRP Negotiating Panel and fired all its members.
Fernandez, a former Catholic priest, was last seen in public in central Negros Island in December 2016 where he attended a press conference and talked about the peace process and Duterte’s drug war, among other things.
He was reportedly tagged by the military as the most wanted rebel leader in Negros with a P7.8 million bounty on his head. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)