Karapatan reiterates call for dismissal of trumped up charges vs peace consultants, respect JASIG

“They should not have been charged with fabricated cases, nor arrested and detained, in the first place,” thus said Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Jigs Clamor, during the hearing at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 on the trumped up charges against NDFP peace consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad, Randall Echanis, and Rafael Baylosis. 

Co-accused in the said trumped up murder charges are former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, former Jagna, Bohol Mayor Exuperio Lloren, and peasant leaders Dario Tomada, Norberto Murillo, Oscar Belleza. Deceased political prisoner Bernabe Ocasla was also included as among the respondents in the case, until he died on November 28, 2017, due to a heart attack. 

Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, along with their co-accused, are facing trial for charges of multiple murder for the so-called mass grave in Hilongos, Leyte, purportedly discovered by the military in 1984. “With questionable witnesses, fabricated evidence, and spectacular narratives involving premonitions and ghosts, the case is a fictitious sham meant to paint the peace consultants and progressive leaders as criminals, in an attempt to put them behind bars and silence them. We maintain that the cases against the Tiamzons and their co-accused be dismissed, especially with how the trial has progressed, the prosecution and the military have shown the sheer lack of bases of the said case,’ Clamor said.

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon are among the nineteen (19) political prisoners who were released on bail last August 2016 to directly participate in the formal peace talks. Both panels were already negotiating pertinent points and provisions in the comprehensive agreements on social and economic reforms and on political and constitutional reforms, when the peace talks was “cancelled” by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. The negotiating panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, through Presidential Adviser on the Peace Processes Jesus Dureza, subsequently sent the NDFP a letter stating the “termination” of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

“The re-arrest of NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario and the threat to do the same to the other peace consultants are direct violations of the JASIG, for even as any of the two Parties terminate the agreement, immunity from summary execution, illegal arrests, detention, threats, harassment are guaranteed for those protected under JASIG,” he said. 

“Such developments, made worse by an all-out-war declaration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), are a step backward for peace. Substantial progress has been made that squandering it all is nonsensical and unreasonable,” added Clamor.

‘We call on President Duterte to tune out the insidious clout of the military, which has consistently impeded the pursuit for just and lasting peace. The ruling elite, protected and propped up by the military, are the few who have much to gain when the roots of the armed rebellion are not addressed to maintain this exploitative and repressive system,” Clamor ended.