Karapatan calls on PNoy to act on Peace based on Justice

REACTING to Malacanang’s position that “it will be better for the NDF to visit the Palace with a signed peace agreement,” as announced by Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, and that “the President could not be expected to comment” on the proposed visit,” as stated by Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles, the national alliance of human rights groups in the Philippines, KARAPATAN, called on President Aquino to take a “hands-on action” on the peace process. 

“We are very much concerned about the peace process.  The President should not pass the buck on this all-important issue.  If he closes the door on peace, the gates for more human rights abuses will surely be flung open,” KARAPATAN acting secretary-general Jigs Clamor said.

In his first SONA, the President said that the government is open to resumption of the peace negotiations and in fact, he was asking the  CPP-NPA-NDF:  “Handa na ba kayong maglaan ng kongkretong mungkahi, sa halip na pawang batikos lamang?  (Are you ready with concrete proposals instead of criticism?),” forgetting in the process that there have been several proposals from the NDFP that were never discussed because the previous regime scuttled the peace talks.  Even his desire for a ceasefire before talks has been adequately responded to by the revolutionary group.

“In fact, the Government of the Philippines (GRP) has already signed several peace accords with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) such as the The Hague Joint Declaration, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).  The President should not turn his back on these agreements.  Now imposing an “agreement first, before visit” precondition on the NDFP is not only unfair but outright inane,” Clamor clarified.  

“Indeed, there can only be progress and development if there is peace; but there can only be peace if it is based on justice. What the human rights groups are asserting is that the human rights violators be punished, their victims indemnified, and the policy for reactionary war by state security forces be ended. The President could start by releasing all political prisoners, including the illegally detained Morong 43 community health workers,” Clamor added.  

Karapatan has been pressing Aquino for the immediate release of political prisoners and justice for more than a thousand victims of extra-judicial killings, hundreds of enforced disappearances, displacement of communities, threats, harassments, intimidations, and the filing of trumped-up charges against leaders and members of progressive organizations.

 “The government has also vilified and continue to persecute NDFP consultants like Rafael Baylosis of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Randall Echanis of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and Vicente Ladlad of the party list Bayan Muna. State prosecutors has conjured criminal charges against human rights defenders like Fred Caña of Negros, Kelly Delgado of Southern Mindanao.  The President should also act on these issues and initiate moves to end impunity,” Karapatan stated.  And the President must show the forces opposing his policies that he is interested to resolve the issues that are the roots of conflict by resuming the peace negotiations. ####


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