Philippine authorities have arrested a consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
, which represents communist rebels in peace talks with the government. Police spokesman Benigno Durana Jr. confirmed that Vicente Ladlad was "arrested, not abducted" along with two other suspected rebels in the early hours of Nov. 8. The police said they were arrested for possession of illegal firearms. A joint team of policemen and soldiers raided a house where Ladlad was staying and found an AK-47 rifle with a bayonet, an M16A1 assault rifle, two .45 caliber pistols, a 9mm pistol, several loaded magazines, four grenades, and "subversive documents," according to police. Ladlad's wife, Fides Lim, said her husband was innocent, adding that the firearms were planted as part of a government crackdown on suspected dissenters. She said her husband is a "chronic asthmatic which has degenerated into emphysema, he needs his medicines badly." "He is not a member of the New People's Army
," said Lim, referring to the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. In February last year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of Ladlad and other rebel consultants following the government's withdrawal from peace talks. A local court, however, allowed Ladlad and other consultants to travel to participate in the resumption of talks with the government in the Netherlands in June. The negotiations failed and have not yet resumed. Jose Maria Sison, exiled founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said despite an impasse in the talks, Ladlad should not have been arrested. The rebel leader said a "Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees" that was signed by the government and rebel negotiators in 1995 protects consultants. Earlier, Philippine authorities also arrested peace consultants Rafel Baylosis and Adelberto Silva for "illegal possession of firearms and explosives." Human rights group Karapatan
said the arrests were a "direct and grave violation of the joint agreement," which provide negotiators and consultants immunity from arrest and detention. "We condemn the arrest amidst intensifying attacks against people's rights and human rights in the Philippines," the group said in a statement.