Karapatan: Release NDFP consultants, revive peace talks
MANILA, Philippines — Human rights organization Karapatan on Thursday urged the Duterte administration to stop its “persecution of peace consultants” and instead go back to the peace negotiating table to resolve the root cause of armed conflict.
At the same time, Karapatan called for the immediate release of Renante Gamara, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP); and retired Catholic priest Arturo Balaga.
“This is not only a time of un-peace where there is prevalence of human rights violations and impunity, it is also a period of targeted persecution and intimidation against those who continue to clamor for peace,” Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor said in a statement.
Gamara and Balaga were collared for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives in Imus City, Cavite on Wednesday.
According to Clamor, “fabricated cases” against “political prisoners” like Gamara and Balaga should be dismissed.
Clamor said this was not the first time that a peace consultant was arrested, mentioning NDFP advisers Vicente Ladlad, Adelberto Silva, Rafael Baylosis, and Rey Casambre.
“We call for the immediate release of Renante Gamara and Arturo Balagat, and the dismissal of the trumped-up cases against them. We also demand the dismissal of fabricated cases against all political prisoners,” he said.
Clamor noted that the arrests of peace consultants took place following the termination of the peace talks by the Duterte administration and consequent cancelation of the appointments of members of the government’s negotiating panel.
“The government has again zeroed in on the persecution of peace consultants, instead of working to resolve the root causes of the armed conflict by way of pursuing peace negotiations,” he said.
“We continuously call for the resumption of the peace talks. Peace must be based on social justice, and thus would need holistic and substantial, yet realistic reforms in our political and economic system,” he added. /kga
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