Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NDF-EV says amnesty for rebel soldiers may be positive, calls for release of NDFP consultant and all political prisoners

NDF-EV says amnesty for rebel soldiers may be positive,
calls for release of NDFP consultant and all political prisoners

NDF-Eastern Visayas
October 13, 2010

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today said the Aquino government's granting of amnesty to soldiers who rose up against the previous administration may be a positive step, and also called for the release of NDFP peace consultant Eduardo Sarmiento and all political prisoners. "The Aquino government must also heed as well the plight of the political prisoners, who were slapped with trumped-up charges and subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention," Fr. Salas said. "We call attention to political prisoners languishing behind bars, such as NDFP consultant Eduardo Sarmiento, Dario Tomada, Vincent Borja, Paterno Opo, and Jaime Soledad, among others. Mr. Aquino should take a leaf from his mother, who released the political prisoners of the Marcos dictatorship after its overthrow in 1986."

Fr. Salas added that, "To recall, Eduardo Sarmiento, the NDFP consultant for Eastern Visayas in the peace talks with the Philippine government, was abducted by government intelligence agents on Feb. 24, 2009, while in Manila for consultations and is currently detained at Camp Crame. Sarmiento's arrest was a blatant violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees between the NDFP and Philippine government. Meanwhile, political prisoners Borja, Tomada, Opo and Soledad were also arrested on false charges stemming from the military's orchestration in 2006 of alleged "mass graves" by the New People's Army in Leyte."

Fr. Salas also pointed out that the release of Sarmiento, Borja, Tomada and other political prisoners will be a positive step to resuming the peace negotiations between the Aquino government and the NDFP. "We call on the Aquino government to release NDFP consultant Sarmiento and all the political prisoners as a show of goodwill for the resumption of peace talks with the NDFP. This will pave the way to discuss and address the root causes of the armed conflict. We also call on the Church, media, human rights advocates, civil libertarians and other peace advocates to support the struggle for freedom for all political prisoners and the continuation of the peace process."

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