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Communist rebels to draw up new list of people ‘immune’ from arrest during peace talks

The chief negotiator for the Philippines' communist insurgents, Luis Jalandoni, speaks during a Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) forum in Manila on September 3, 2011. Philippine communist rebels said September 3 they see stalled talks with Manila resuming with Norway's help, while suggesting a limited deal that they said would swiftly end the decades-long insurgency. The two sides held on-and-off talks for over 20 years but in a meeting brokered by Norway in February, both agreed to speed up negotiations in an attempt seal a peace accord by June 2012. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS

The chief negotiator for the Philippines’ communist insurgents, Luis Jalandoni, AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS

LUCENA CITY, Quezon — A new list would be drawn out to identify people who would be granted immunity from arrest during the peace negotiation between the government and communist rebels, an official of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said.

In an online interview on Sunday, Luis Jalandoni, NDFP chief peace negotiator, said the list related to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) would be “reconstituted” in line with preparations for the return of communist rebels to the negotiating table under the administration of President Duterte.

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The JASIG was signed in 1995 by the government and communist representatives.

A list of 75 rebel consultants, including their photographs, was deposited by the Philippine government, NDFP and Church representatives in a vault in The Netherlands in 1996 so this could serve as basis for identifying consultants who would be granted immunity from arrest.

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But in 2011, the parties discovered that the two diskettes containing the list had been damaged and its contents could no longer be retrieved.

Under the JASIG, NDFP peace panel members, consultants and staff who are part of the negotiating team are granted immunity from arrest and detention. The document provides safety guarantees “to create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and free movement during the peace negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the [talks].”

The irretrievable data made it impossible for the government to verify claims by NDFP that some of their arrested leaders were included in the JASIG list.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights advocate Karapatan, said her group had documented 519 political prisoners detained in different jails across the country.

Of this number, 21 are NDFP consultants and JASIG-protected persons, according to Karapatan.

The formal peace negotiation is set to resume in Oslo, Norway, this month.

The NDFP is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed group, the New People’s Army, and as such, it is representing the CPP NPA in the talks.  SFM

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TAGS: Armed conflict, Communist Party of the Philippines, communist rebellion, CPP, Cristina Palabay, immunity from arrest and detention during peace negotiations, Insurgency, JASIG, Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, Jose Maria Sison, Karapatan, Luis Jalandoni, Nation, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, NDFP, New People's Army, news, NPA, peace, peace negotiations, peace process, Peace Talks, Philippine Government, rebellion, Safe conduct pass
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