Karapatan calls for immediate release of detained JASIG-protected persons

Human rights organization Karapatan called for immediate release of Renato Baleros, 58, and recently arrested Eduardo Genelsa, 60, for just and humanitarian grounds. 
Both should not have been arrested, in the first place, as they are protected under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed by the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Karapatan said. 

Baleros was rushed to the hospital due to kidney infection night of July 2. 

“Only 5% of both of his kidneys are functioning. He is already on his second session of dialysis today,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said. Baleros was first rushed to Eastern Visayas Regional Memorial Center in Catbalogan, Samar and was transferred to Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Hospital in Tacloban City.

Baleros and his wife Lonie Colinayo-Baleros were heading the New People’s Army’s relief operations in Western Samar during the devastation of the typhoon Yolanda when they were arrested by the 87th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army on December 2013. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared a unilateral ceasefire in the aftermath of Yolanda. 

Baleros is detained at the Samar Provincial Jail on trumped up charges of murder and frustrated murder, robbery in band and multiple homicide, arson, almost all of which are already dismissed. He is still facing a murder charge. His wife Lonie is detained at Catarman District Jail is facing multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, and robbery in band charges. 

“The government should shoulder Baleros' medical expenses and immediately release him. He cannot go back to jail once he recovers,” Palabay said. “The BS Aquino government has jailed him for several trumped up charges and the situation in prison caused or aggravated his health condition,” she added.

Karapatan also condemned the AFP's arrest of another JASIG-protected person, Eduardo Genelsa. When he was arrested, Genelsa was in a known NDF territory in Sitio Sangi, Brgy. Bongabong, Pantukan, Compostela to discuss the upcoming GPH-NDFP peace talks to residents in the community, the proper conduct of the people’s democratic government and the revolutionary forces should a proposed ceasefire agreement take effect. Genelsa was also in the community to conduct an investigation regarding druglord operations in the vicinity, and to gather complaints regarding the mining corporation St. Augustine Gold & Copper Ltd. in Pantukan. 

He was acting on a special function and was defenseless against the combined forces of the 10th Infantry Division, 46th IBPA, Philippine National Police and operatives of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) Unit who came and arrested him.

“The AFP never respected the JASIG with its continuous arrest of JASIG protected persons like Genelsa and Baleros. With the upcoming formal peace talks between the NDFP and the Duterte government, the AFP sends a message that the military does not want peace and will jeopardize any peace efforts,” Palabay ended.