Police announced Friday the "arrest" of another high-ranking Communist Party of the Philippines official but later clarified that the suspect was already arrested last May 2017.
Police and soldiers served a warrant of arrest for arson and frustrated murder against suspected CPP Secretary Rommel Dorango Salinas at about 11 a.m., February 1, 2018, a press release from the Police Regional Office 10 headquarters read.
The serving of the warrant was done at Bernad Subdivision City Hall Drive, Barangay Aguada in Ozamiz City.
The National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), however, belied the report, saying Salinas "was already arrested way back May 11, 2017 and is still in detention."
An ABS-CBN News report said Salinas was arrested in a checkpoint in Barangay Gango, Ozamiz City where an MK2 hand grenade, knife, communication gadgets, a map and P80,000 were found in his possession.
The NUPL called the police spot check report as a "cheap propaganda stunt" as it gave the impression that "he was only arrested yesterday."
"Ipapalala lang po namin sa authorities na inaresto n'yo na po si Rommel Salinas na NDFP consultant last May 11, 2017 together with Bishop Carlos Morales, his wife and his driver. So ano ito?Bolahan na lang, g*guhan an lang. Pasensya na ha. We are very sure that this person is a victim of illegal arrest," Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
In an interview, Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, Northern Mindanao police spokesman, confirmed that Salinas was already arrested 9 months ago.
"We just served another warrant for Salinas after his court appearance yesterday. The address on the police press release is the address of the courtroom," he told ABS-CBN News.
"Hindi propaganda 'yon kasi totoong nag serve ng warrant of arrest ang kapulisan at kasundaluhan natin," Gonda said.
The alleged arrest of another high-ranking CPP official came two days after National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael Baylosis and alleged New People's Army member Roque Guillermo were apprehended for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
The series of arrests come less than a month after a Manila court ordered the rearrest of communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma after the breakdown of peace talks between the government and the armed left.
The government formally ended peace talks with the Reds last year after communist rebels continued to attack military troops and private equipment in the countryside despite ongoing negotiations.
- with a report from Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story referred to Baylosis' companion as Guillermo Roque