Manila: A senior communist guerrilla leader has been arrested ahead of planned peace talks with the Philippines government, the two sides said on Monday.
Alfredo Mapano, one of the top officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in the south, was taken into custody by soldiers and police on Saturday after he and his wife checked into a hotel in Cagayan de Oro city, a military statement said.
He is to stand trial for murder, attempted murder, robbery and homicide, it added.
The Maoist rebels protested the detention and demanded Mapano's immediate release, claiming he is immune from arrest as a "peace negotiations consultant" under terms agreed by the two sides last month.
Manila announced in mid-July that talks aimed at ending the 40-year Maoist armed rebellion are to resume in Norway some time this month after a four-year hiatus.
It said members of the CPP and its armed wing, the New People's Army, who are directly involved in the talks would have immunity from arrest on Filipino territory from July 17.
The CPP central committee said in a statement that Mapano "operates in the North Central Mindanao base" of the party and was visiting his family en route to "consultations" with other rebel leaders involved in the planned talks.
First Published: Monday, August 03, 2009, 16:14