Relatives of detained peace consultants: What’s taking the GPH so long?

“Our loved ones should be released on just and humanitarian grounds. What is taking the Duterte administration so long?” relatives of political prisoners said today. 
  
 
"We have heard the Duterte government through the GPH panel say that they will release detained peace consultants in order to pursue peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), yet our relatives remain in jail,” Niki Gamara, daughter of peace consultant Renante Gamara who has been detained for four years now. 

Immediately after the May elections, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte committed to release all political prisoners through a general amnesty. Duterte said he will release peace consultants before the opening of the formal peacetalks. When he took oath, he then said he will give "safe conduct passes" for the Tiamzons and others to take part of the peace talks in Oslo, Norway. GPH panel chair Jesus Dureza expressed his continued “optimism” in releasing the peace consultants. 

“We have heard it too many times. Yet, the August 20 schedule for the formal peace talks is already in two weeks but we haven’t seen any development. Nor is there any order from a court releasing any of the 22 peace consultants and those who should be released on humanitarian grounds," Sharon Cabusao, wife of NDFP consultant Adelberto Silva, said. Silva was arrested June 5, 2015 with Cabusao and Isidro de Lima. A year later, Cabusao and de Lima were released due to the dismissal of charges of illegal possession of firearms. Silva remains in jail for other trumped up criminal cases against him. 

"The opening of the formal peace talks have been moved to give more time to process the release of detained peace consultants. Nothing has happened yet,” the Niki Gamara said. “Being consultants of the NDFP, they need to take part in the formal talks as they have crucial roles in the discussions on the immediate and strategic reforms needed to address the roots of the armed conflict,” Niki said. 

“Aside from the fact that charges against the consultants are all fabricated, they should be immediately released based on the agreements the GPH is signatory to, such as the Joint Agreement of Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Oslo Joint Statement of June 2016,” Niki cited. 
 
“We are getting impatient. How long do we have to wait? We have been fighting for their release for years. And we have heard of the promised release more than enough times. It is time to actually do it,” Cabusao concluded.

 

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