Release detained peace consultants, resume NDFP-GPH peace talks

"The Aquino government should refrain from sabotaging the peace process and should immediately release detained peace consultants," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said as the group staged a picket protest in front of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).  OPAPP is tasked to “oversee, coordinate and integrate the implementation of the comprehensive peace process.”

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According to Palabay, the harassment, arrest and detention of peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) through trumped up charges and inclusion in the bounty list of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) are clear violations of the Joint Agreement on Immunity and Security Guarantees (JASIG), an agreement signed between the GPH and the NDFP in 1995,” added Palabay.  JASIG was signed by both parties in February 24, 1995.

 

Meanwhile, detained NDFP consultant Ramon Patriarca today started a protest fast until February 26, 2013. Patriarca is currently detained at the AFP Central Command in Camp Lapu-lapu, Cebu City, where he was transferred from the Cebu Provincial Jail in Danao City. Patriarca has been in jail for four years.

 

Patriarca, through a statement, said the Aquino government "is effectively stalling the peace talk’s regular course, and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER). It continues to violate, with impunity, the 1998 GRP-NDF Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).”  CARHRIHL is the first of the four substantive agenda lined up for discussion between the GPH and the NDFP.

 

 

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Two years ago, the GPH committed to release most, if not all, peace consultants but until now, Palabay said, there are thirteen peace consultants in detention and Patriarca is being detained in a military camp instead of a civilian detention facility. Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara was likewise detained for almost two years in a military camp. 

 

Karapatan also pointed out the escalating violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), with the Aquino government’s implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, has resulted to 137 victims of extrajudicial killings, 154 cases of frustrated extrajudicial killings and 498 individual victims of illegal arrests. “The continuing violations and the prevalent impunity clearly sabotage efforts for meaningful advances in the peace process,” said Palabay.

 

The detained peace consultants are: Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Eduardo Serrano, Edgardo Friginal, Eduardo Serrano, Leopoldo Caloza, Emeterio Antalan, Renante Gamara, Jaime Soledad, Danilo Badayos, Pedro Codaste, Alfredo Mapano and Ramon Patriarca.  There are also 11 NDF consultants and staff who remain missing under the Aquino government.

 

“If there is any ounce of truth in the Philippine government’s statements expressing willingness to purportedly pursue peace, it should walk the talk. It should, first and foremost, facilitate the release of all thirteen peace consultants and all political prisoners," Palabay said.

 

Karapatan likewise called on all candidates in the 2013 elections to stand with the people's call for just and lasting peace and push for the release of detained NDFP consultants and all political prisoners. ###

 

 

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