Manila: The arrest of a top communist leader will not affect the plans of the government to continue calling for the resumption of stalled peace talks with the 47-year-old Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the New People’s Army (NPA), government and rebel sources said.

The Philippine government has not officially ended its 23-year-old on-and-off peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), a peace negotiator of the CPP-NPA, who requested anonymity, said prompting an observer to say the government is always “willing to rekindle” peace talks with the NDF before elections, one of which will be held mid-2016.

Leftist negotiators are also expected to complain and call for the release of Adelberto Silva, 60, identified as secretary-general of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and head of CPP’s National Organisation Department, who was arrested in his home on Hernandez Street, in Molino village, Baccor City at 11pm on Monday, for his alleged responsibility in the mass murder of 15 people in Leyte, central Philippines, in 1985.

Silva’s wife Sharon Ronquillo Cabusao and CPP member Isidro de Lima were also arrested because ammunition, explosives, electronic devices, grenade launchers, identification cards, and subversive materials were seized from them during the joint military and police raid that was backed by months of surveillance, said Col. Harold Cabunoc, head of the public affairs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Silva, also known as Renato Dimacali, Percival Rojo, and Greg Santos, allegedly succeeded Wilma Tiamzon, former CCP’s secretary general before her arrest in Cebu, Central Philippines, last March 14. Her husband Benito Tiamzon, CPP and NPA head, was also arrested at that time.

Last April, during the celebration of the founding of the NDF, head Luis Jalandoni said the Philippine government-NDF peace talks could resume anytime as long as the government releases 16 NDF peace consultants, the Tiamzon couple, and hundreds more of leftist political prisoners held by the police and the military nationwide.

Identifying the political prisoners who should be released immediately, Jalandoni had said, “Those who are sick, elderly, and imprisoned for four years or more.” The two parties forged an initial agreement in 1995 to grant leftist peace negotiators immunity from arrest.

“What is important in the peace talks is that it does not result in the capitulation [of the 47-year-old CPP],” explained Jalandoni, in response to the government’s earlier demand of forging of ceasefire agreement between the NPA fighters and government security forces.

CCP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, who has been living in exile in the Netherlands, also said: “The NDF continues to be ready to resume negotiations.”

The CPP-NPA peaked with 25,000 armed members in the seventies, but this weakened to 5,000 with the expulsion of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Despite this, it has remained in control of majority of far-flung villages and municipalities that do not receive government services.