A ranking official of the government’s primary anti-communist task force declared Monday, April 17, that the New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao has been “totally defeated” following the arrest of alleged communist leader Eric Casilao.
According to authorities, Casilao was intercepted by immigration personnel at the Langkawi immigration check in counter in Malaysia on April 1 while he was on his way to Thailand via a ferry boat. He was eventually deported to the Philippines on April 17.
NTF-ELCAC exec declares ‘total defeat’ of NPA in S. Mindanao after arrest of Casilao
At a glance
A ranking official of the government’s primary anti-communist task force declared Monday, April 17, that the New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao has been “totally defeated” following the arrest of alleged communist leader Eric Casilao.(Photo via Manila Bulletin)
According to authorities, Casilao was intercepted by immigration personnel at the Langkawi immigration check-in counter in Malaysia on April 1 while he was on his way to Thailand via a ferry boat. He was eventually deported to the Philippines on Monday.
Casilao is the alleged Secretary of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SRMC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – NPA, and an “active member” of the Central Committee of CPP, said Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr., executive director of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
“We can now declare that the SMRC, particularly its armed component, is now totally defeated,” Torres said.
Authorities said that Casilao and his wife, May, who was tagged as an alleged "plenary member" of the SMRC, had been tracked in Malaysia by various government agencies since last month due to their supposed connection with the CPP-NPA.
The Philippine National Police (PN) said Casilao has a P5.4-million bounty on his head, and is facing multiple criminal cases such as two counts of murder both issued by the Regional Trial Court in Nabunturan, Davao De Oro; as well as kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
The PNP then sought the help of Malaysian authorities to monitor Casilao as the national government already cancelled the passports of the couple, who allegedly assumed identities or fictitious names.
Authorities said the Malaysian and Philippine law enforcement agencies shared intelligence information which resulted in the arrest of Casilao for violation of Malaysian immigration laws. His wife, on the other hand, remains at large, the PNP said.
Casilao is set to be brought to Davao de Oro where he will be presented to the court.
“His arrest in Malaysia, beyond doubt, proves that no criminal or terrorist can escape the long arm of our sovereign laws,” Torres said.
“Mr. Casilao is just one of many who will fall and pay for the consequences of their actions. They can run but we will not be far behind,” the retired Philippine Army general added.
Meanwhile, Casilao’s brother, former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, expressed alarm over the arrest as he claimed that the former was not given the chance to talk to his lawyers.
“The lawyers were denied information regarding the details of his deportation to the Philippines. I now fear for his life and safety, while he is in the custody of PH officials as they have refused to give legal representatives relevant information regarding current status,” he said in a statement.
He then urged the authorities to “respect and ensure the protection of my brother’s rights under international and national human rights instruments, whatever the charges or accusations against him.”
“I believe that Eric has the right to have access to his lawyers, at every stage of his being in the custody of authorities, and especially in the duration of his deportation and travel from Malaysia to the Philippines, I am very worried of his safety,” Ariel said.