Karapatan welcomes the lifting of JASIG suspension, calls for the release of detained NDFP consultants

On the resumption of peace talks
Karapatan welcomes the lifting of JASIG suspension, calls for the release of detained NDFP consultants

The human rights alliance Karapatan welcomes the lifting of the suspension of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG), which shall take effect on July 17, to pave the way for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Karapatan likewise welcomes the announcement of both parties of their readiness to return to the negotiating table to pursue a just and lasting peace. The lifting of the JASIG suspension should also pave the way for the release of all NDFP consultants, staff and other individuals who are protected by the Guarantee and who are now in detention for several trumped up charges.

However, while there are ongoing measures to supposedly facilitate the release of some the consultants, Karapatan secretary general Marie Hilao-Enriquez expressed concern that Elizabeth Principe is not yet released from Camp Crame Custodial Center, despite the dismissal by the courts of all the charges against her.

“It is already more than a week since Principe’s last case was dismissed from the Bambang Regional Trial Court in Nueva Ecija for lack of probable cause. She should immediately be released from detention and not kept locked up due to mere technicalities,” Enriquez explained.

Principe is a rural health worker and an NDFP consultant who was abducted in November 28, 2007. She was presented to the media three days later as a high ranking member of the New People’s Army.

Karapatan urges the government to immediately release Principe, all detained NDFP consultants and staff, and all JASIG-protected individuals as a confidence-building measure for the peace negotiations.

Karapatan calls for the immediate release of  and the dropping of charges against NDFP consultants Randall Echanis, Angelina Ipong, Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan and Glicerio Pernia, and JASIG protected persons Eduardo Serrano, Randy Felix Malayao, Jaime Soledad and Edgardo Friginal. Karapatan also calls for the dismissal of the fabricated charges against NDFP consultants Vic Ladlad and Rafael Baylosis.

“The Arroyo government should show its sincerity to the peace process by releasing these detained personnel so that the negotiations for a just and lasting peace can resume,” concluded Enriquez.###