Reds demand release of captured comradesBy Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LUCENA CITY, Philippines –The leaders of the country’s communist revolutionary movement on Monday demanded the immediate release of captured top New People’s Army leader Benjamin Mendoza, saying he is part of the communist peace panel, thus, immune from arrest.
Luis Jalandoni, in an email statement, a copy was received by the Inquirer, condemned the arrest of Mendoza and his companions and charged the government with violation of the human rights and international humanitarian law and refusal to respect and comply with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
Jalandoni, chairperson of the National Democratic Front based in Utrecht, The Netherland, said Mendoza is covered by the JASIG as the NDF’s principal consultants in the Southern Tagalog region in the conduct of peace negotiation with the government.
“The Aquino regime’s numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and its refusal to respect and comply with the JASIG are serious obstacles to the resumption of formal peace talks,” Jalandoni said.
The JASIG, signed in 1995 by the government and communist peace panels, guarantees immunity from arrest to NDF members, consultants and staff who are part of the negotiating team.
Under the JASIG, a holder of a safe-conduct pass should not engage in criminal activities such as terrorism and extortion or hostile acts against the government for the duration of its effectivity.
On Saturday, combined police and military operatives arrested Mendoza, his wife Josephine and two other companions in Quezon City.
According to report from the military’s Southern Luzon Command based here in Camp Nakar, Mendoza alias “Ka Lorens/Kenji/Dave”, is the alleged secretary of the CPP-Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (CPP-STRPC) and also a member of the CPP-Central Committee.
Citing military dossiers on Mendoza, Colonel Generoso Bolina, Solcom spokesman, claimed the rebel was the brain behind the successful NPA raids in Mindoro island, Philippine Air Force detachment in the National Power Corporation in Calaca, Batangas; in Batangas Provincial Jail where at least nine detained communist guerillas were freed and at an Army Detachment in Mulanay, Quezon.
Bolina said Mendoza was also responsible behind the NPA initiated ambuscades in General Nakar and Lopez Quezon and bombing of a bridge in Del Gallego in Bicol region.
Mendoza carries a P5.6 million reward for his capture.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Sunday said Mendoza, 61, is a holder of a “Document of Identification” issued in line with the JASIG and thus, immune from arrest.
“His arrest is a gross violation of the provisions of the JASIG which prohibits the arrest and other acts of persecution against peace personnel of either side,” said the CPP.
The CPP accused the Aquino administration of mocking the peace negotiations between the communist and the government.
“It underscores the Aquino regime’s lack of seriousness to pursue the path of peace negotiations as a means of resolving the outstanding issues behind the raging civil war in the country,” the CPP said.
Jalandoni accused the government of gross violations of the JASIG and cited the previous arrests of other NDF consultants Tirso Alcantara, Alan Jazmines and Renante Gamara.
Jalandoni also complained that another NDF consultant, Jaime Soledad, was rearrested after having been released in July 2011 whole nine other NDF consultants continue to languish in prisons
The NDF official also accused the government of violating the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) by filing charges of common crimes against their peace consultants and other political prisoners.
“This is a gross violation of the Hernandez political offense doctrine which is stipulated in the CARHRIHL (Part III, Respect for Human Rights, Article 6),” Jalandoni said.
Government records showed that the communist guerilla war, one of the longest and deadliest in Asia, already claimed more than 40,000 lives and peace remains elusive despite a series of peace talks by successive presidents.
The government and the communist rebels have yet to return to the peace table after they first met in Oslo on February last year.
The on and off peace talks between the government and the communist rebels have been stalled since 2004 because both parties were adamant in pushing for their respective preconditions before the start of the talks.
The last attempt to talk peace reached an impasse following a disagreement over the release of detained communist rebels. The government countered that the discordant demands from the rebels impede the resumption of the peace talks.