Implement JASIG, free the consultants--NDFP
Formal peace negotiations are not likely to take place if the Government of the Philippines (GPH) continues to refuse complying with its agreement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in January to free detained NDFP consultants. NDFP Negotiating Panel chair Comrade Luis Jalandoni aired this warning in his June 2 letter to Atty. Alex Padilla who chairs the GPH Negotiating Panel.
The GPH pledged in its joint communiqué with the NDFP dated January 18 that it would expedite the release of detained NDFP consultants and other personalities covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). Before the end of May, both Padilla and Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles urged Comrade Fidel Agcaoili, NDFP Negotiating Panel vice chair to postpone his return to Utrecht, The Netherlands as Benigno Aquino III would allegedly announce the release of political detainees on June 1. The date passed without any of the 17 detained NDFP consultants being released.
Among the imprisoned NDFP consultants is Alan Jazmines, a member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER). Jazmines who was illegally arrested on February 14 will be unable to fulfill his crucial role in the RWC-SER because he continues to languish at the police detention center in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Instead, authorities have threatened to transfer him to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
Aside from Jazmines, NDFP Southern Tagalog consultant Tirso Alcantara is also detained and has been handcuffed to his bed since his arrest in January. It was Alcantara who signed the International Committee of the Red Cross document when the NPA released Maj. Noel Buan of the Philippine Army in April 2001. Alcantara is protected by the JASIG.
The NDFP said that the Aquino regime's failure to fulfill its pledge to immediately release political prisoners poses a serious obstacle to the peace talks. Discussions on socio-economic reforms as well as on political and constitutional reforms have been set for June.
The NDFP demanded concrete measures from the GPH to implement the commitments it made during formal talks held last February 15-21. There are currently more than 340 political prisoners awaiting concrete action from the GPH in compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).