Arrest of communist consultants violates peace talk rules – solon
MANILA — The Philippine government should not just arrest peace process consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines right away and should first follow the processes laid out in the peace negotiations, Bayan Muna Rep. Karlos Isagani Zarate said.
In a Monday briefing, he stressed that authorities should observe the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, as well as court processes on the bail that allowed temporary liberty to some detained consultants.
Confirming that he received reports of the arrest of consultant Ariel Arbitrario in Davao City, he said: “I think that is a violation of [JASIG], even a violation of the condition for the [court’s] grant of bail for the peace consultants.”
He said the government “should not automatically just capture” the NDFP panel consultants because JASIG, a binding agreement, has been exisiting since 1995.
“It will only complicate matters if the security sectors will not get proper guidance from the government, especially the government panel,” Zarate said.
During the briefing, he issued a broad appeal for “all people of goodwill” to call for a return to the negotiating table, arguing that recent incidents between the military and rebels all the more have made it “the proper time to negotiate.”
At the same time, he cautiously answered questions by reporters who wondered if President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statements indicated good will. “I don’t want to judge. The President speaks of what he perceives things are happening,” he said.
As for Duterte’s declaration that the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army have been deemed terrorists, Zarate said: “I have my own reaction to that, but I’d rather keep it to myself.”
“The situation is very critical, very sensitive,” he admitted. “I’m calling on all parties not to add more to heated statements already made.”
Zarate also declined to comment on whether this development would lead the militant Makabayan coalition to break away from the House of Representatives’ majority bloc.
“I don’t want to dwell on those things,” he said, holding out hope that the Duterte government would reconsider its move.
“It would be better to pay attention to how to pursue the peace negotiations.” SFM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.