Military: NPA 'finance officer' arrested in Butuan

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February) — An alleged finance officer of the armed communist rebels was arrested in Butuan City Friday afternoon, the military said Saturday.

Leonida Guao – also known by the aliases Lea, Ligaya, and Laya – was arrested in a joint police and military operation in Barangay Bading, Butuan City in the province of Agusan del Norte at around 3 p.m. on Friday, the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) said in a press release.

She is now under the custody of the CARAGA regional police.

The military described Guao as a high-ranking leader of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has waged a 48-year-old insurgency.

Guao "handles the group's extortion money in Mindanao," the military said.

She had a warrant of arrest for murder, issued by Branch 7 of the Bayugan Regional Trial Court, Agusan del Sur, the military said.

"This arrest is a result of the cooperation of the whole community and the different law enforcement agencies. It also proves that the terrorists cannot run away from the long arm of the law," said Lt. Gen Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr., commander of the EMC.

This is the third supposed arrest of a rebel leader this week, according to the police and military.

Police on Wednesday rearrested National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant Rafael Baylosis in Quezon City for murder charges. The NDF represents rebels in peace talks with the government.

READ: Police arrest NDFP consultant Rafael Baylosis

The NDF said the arrest was illegal, citing their Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees with the government in 1995.

Another NDF consultant, Rommel Salinas, whom police said was the CPP's secretary, was arrested on charges of frustrated murder on Thursday in Ozamis City, according to a report from the Northern Mindanao Police.

But NDF legal counsel Edre Olalia belied the police report, saying Salinas has been detained in jail since May 2017 and cannot be rearrested. He dismissed the report as a "a cheap propaganda stunt to sow terror and confusion."

READ: Lawyers belie police report on NDF consultant's arrest

Both are now facing charges of illegal possession of explosives, a non-bailable offense.

President Rodrigo Duterte terminated peace talks in November 2017 and tagged members of the CPP-NPA as terrorists. He then ordered the mass arrest of NDF consultants.