MOLO, Iloilo City - A high-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in Panay Island was arrested by joint police and military forces in Calumpang, Molo, Iloilo City early morning on Saturday.
Sixty-four-year-old Maria Concepcion Bocala, also known as Ka Concha, Ka Merly, and Ka Etang, is allegedly the CPP's secretary general for Komite Rehiyon Panay.
She is facing murder and rebellion charges, and has a P7.8-million bounty on her head.
During her arrest in Juntado Subdivison, authorities also seized a fragmentation grenade, .45-caliber and .22-caliber pistols, ammunition, cell phones, a laptop, and an external hard drive.
In a press conference, Philippine National Police (PNP) regional director Chief. Supt. Bernardo Diaz said Bocala has been the subject of a decade-long manhunt in Panay.
"Yung hustisya has been served kasi meron siyang kaso. Kung sino man ang naulila, palagay ko masasabi natin na yung hustisya nai-serve na," Diaz said.
Bocala's nephew, Joseph Cariaga, and helper, Anniely Soldevilla, were also taken into custody for further investigation and medical treatment.
Bocala's lawyer, for her part, asserted that her client is a holder of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
Therefore, she cannot be arrested nor prosecuted, lawyer Janne Baterna said.
"She is exempted for detention, arrest and prosecution, at kung anumang charges against sa kaniya because she is an NDF (National Democratic Front) consultant," she said.