Communists denounce increase in bounties for rebel leadersBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Communist Party of the Philippines denounced on Saturday President Benigno Aquino’s decision to increase the bounty for two communist guerrilla leaders, saying this showed that the Aquino administration was not serious about resuming formal peace talks with the rebels.
In a statement, the CPP said increasing the reward money for the arrest of Benito Tiamzon and Jorge Madlos to P5.5 million violated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which the government signed with the rebels in 1998.
The rebel group said Tiamzon and Madlos were key and prominent officials of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the latter serving as spokesperson of the NDFP in Mindanao, and were covered by the agreement.
“This latest move reveals the Aquino regime’s lack of serious intent with regard peace negotiations with the NDFP,” the CPP said.
Tiamzon and Madlos have standing warrants for their arrest for their alleged involvement in violent incidents, including attacks on civilian targets. National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia accused Madlos of being involved in the attack on the Taganito mines in Surigao del Norte in October last year.
Malacañang insisted that increasing the bounties for Tiamzon and Madlos would not affect peace negotiations with the rebels.
The negotiations between the government and the communist rebels have been stalled since February 2011 after the NDFP insisted that the government should first release 14 prisoners who the rebels claim were covered the JASIG.
The JASIG binds both the government and the NDFP to guarantee the security of negotiators, consultants and personnel of the parties engaged in the peace talks, the CPP said.
It added that the agreement prohibits subjecting peace personnel of both sides to surveillance, arrest, detention, filing of criminal charges and any persecution or punitive acts that would impair their effective participation in the peace talks.
“Since assuming power, the Aquino regime has been violating the JASIG with impunity,” the CPP said.
The group said the NDFP consultants currently in jail include Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Renante Gamara, Ramon Patriarca, Eduardo Serrano, Eduardo Sarmiento, Pedro Codaste and Randy Malayao.
“The most recent violation of the JASIG was the abduction last August 5 of NDFP-Southern Tagalog consultant Jesus Abetria and a member of his staff, Restituto Galicia, in Kalayaan, Laguna by operatives of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police,” the CPP said.
“Furthermore, the government has yet to face responsibility for the abduction and enforced disappearance in 2006 of NDFP officials and consultants Leo Velasco, Pedro Calubid, Rogelio Calubad and their staff,” it added.