NDFP lawyer: Arresting Reds will violate pact
LUCENA CITY — Any order to arrest communist rebel leaders involved in the peace process would be premature and violates agreements between the Philippine government and rebel umbrella organization National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), a lawyer for NDFP said.
Edre Olalia, legal consultant of NDFP peace panel, said in a statement on Saturday that arresting NDFP members involved in peace talks with the government as consultants would be a “circumvention” of the law and violate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, or Jasig, signed by NDFP and government representatives.
Jasig, said Olalia, requires the government to issue a formal notice of termination of the talks to NDFP.
Jasig was signed on Feb. 24, 1995, to protect from arrest rebel negotiators, consultants and staffers involved in peace negotiations.
On Friday, Solicitor General Jose Calida appealed to courts to order the arrest of NDFP consultants, who were out on bail, after peace talks between the Duterte administration and communist rebels collapsed.
In February, Calida also threatened NDFP leaders with arrest and cancellation of bail.
But NDFP said should the government decide to end peace talks, its effectivity, as agreed upon by both sides, would be one month after the government serves a written notice to terminate the peace process.
Until then, NDFP said its consultants are protected by Jasig from arrest or imprisonment.
Last week, chief government peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III admitted that Duterte has yet to give “final instruction” to formalize the termination of talks with NDFP.
On Wednesday, Mr. Duterte announced he was ready to sign a formal notice of termination.
Olalia said Calida’s action “appears to be not in concert with the standing pronouncements” of the government panel and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) that the talks are not officially terminated “despite the verbal pronouncement of President Duterte as there is yet no such written notice of termination.”
‘In full force’
“Jasig still remains in full force and effect,” said Olalia.
He said there is no “clear indication” also that the Department of Justice “is moving for such cancellation of bail bonds much less joining or concurring in the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) unilateral move.”
Olalia said Calida’s action ties the hands of President Duterte “and preempts his flexibility and prerogative to eventually and ultimately resume talks or peace negotiations.”
Peace talks between the government and NDFP, an umbrella organization of underground leftist groups including the Communist Party of the Philippines, collapsed after Mr. Duterte ordered the government peace panel to cancel the negotiations in response to continued rebel attacks on police and military targets.
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