Lawyer tells Roque: Don’t be ‘an accomplice in killing of peace talks’
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque should not let himself be used as an “accomplice to kill the peace negotiations” for making wrong pronouncements about the peace talks between the government and communist rebels, a lawyer said on Friday.
Atty. Rachel Pastores, managing counsel of the Public Interest Law Center, chided Roque for saying that arrested National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant Rafael “Ka Raffy” Baylosis was no longer covered under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) because the peace talks were already terminated.
“Obviously Mr. Harry Roque is innocent or ignorant of the agreements made during the peace negotiations,” Pastores, legal counsel of Baylosis, said in a press conference in Quezon City.
“Mr. Harry Roque should not make himself an accomplice in the killing of the peace negotiations. Kasi po itong patuloy na pag-aresto sa mga NDF consultants, hindi po ito nakakatulong sa clamor ng publiko na ituloy ang peace negotiations,” she added.
(Because the continuing arrest of NDF consultants does not help in the public clamor for peace negotiations to resume.)
Roque, a former human rights lawyer, said on Thursday that there was nothing illegal in the arrest of Baylosis, and the NDF cannot invoke the Jasig because the peace talks were already terminated.
The Jasig is an agreement between the Philippine government and the NDF that provides immunity from arrest, and harassment to those involved in the peace negotiations.
Pastores refuted Roque’s claim, saying it is explicitly stated in the Jasig that all those participating in the peace process are covered with immunity even when the peace talks are already terminated.
According to Pastores, the Jasig states that: “All immunities acquired by virtue of this Joint Agreement shall remain in full force and effect even after the termination of this Joint Agreement, provided said immunities shall not cover acts which are contrary to the purposes of the peace negotiations and outside and beyond involvement or participation in the peace negotiations.”
Joint members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) intelligence groups arrested Baylosis and companion Roque Guillermo Jr. in Quezon City on Wednesday.
The arrest came days after President Rodrigo Duterte warned of going after the “apparatus” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA).
The peace talks between the government and the NDF collapsed late last year after series of skirmishes between the military and the NPA. /kga
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