By Communist Party of the Philippines
The Aquino government is putting a stopple on peace negotiations when its negotiating panel and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) insists that the prolonged detention of Alan Jazmines and 12 other peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are in “faithful compliance” with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
The GPH (the government of Benigno Aquino III) negotiating panel casts aspersion on the NDFP and the peace negotiations when it insists that it “cannot blindly extend JASIG coverage to just anyone that the NDF alleges is covered.” This recent statement reveals the Aquino regime’s outright contempt of peace negotiations and complete distortion of the provisions of the JASIG.
The fact is, the arrest and prolonged detention of Jazmines and other peace consultants of the NDFP are in clear violation of the provisions of the JASIG. The matter of compliance with JASIG should first be resolved before formal peace negotiations can resume. How can the NDFP talk peace with the Aquino regime when its key consultants in negotiations are being detained by the Aquino regime’s police and military forces?
Before claiming to be in “faithful compliance” with the JASIG, the GPH should first have to rectify its persistent violation of the JASIG in the past. Otherwise, one can only conclude that such is nothing but an empty claim especially when juxtaposed with the outstanding case of NDFP consultant Jazmines. Jazmines is among the key and valued consultants of the NDFP in peace negotiations. He was arrested on February 14 last year, on the very eve of the resumption of formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and GPH.
At the time of his arrest, Jazmines presented his Document of Identification with reference number 978213 under the assumed name Dodi Lapida which was issued to him by the NDFP in accordance with the JASIG. Under the first article of the JASIG, either party recognizes such documents of identification as a safe conduct pass which guarantees the security and immunity of its holder from surveillance, arrest and detention.
With his identification document in hand, Jazmines insisted on his right as a peace consultant of the NDFP to be immune from arrest. However, acting on direct orders of then Philippine Army Chief Gen. Arturo Ortiz, the military officers who carried out the arrest of Jazmines contemptuously cast aside the JASIG document and subsequently threw him in jail. Jazmines’ document of identification is now in the possession of the Philippine National Police.
As an engineer, a former businessman and nationalist economist, Jazmines, 65, was to play a key role in discussions and negotiations on the second substantive agenda to draft a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms. The NDFP has underscored the importance of Jazmines’ release both in terms of compliance with the JASIG as well as the key role he is supposed to play in negotiations. Under the JASIG, his release could be immediately effected upon cognizance of the GPH of the NDFP’s designation of Jazmines as a participant in the negotiations.
Such was expected of the GPH when it signed the Oslo Joint Statement of February 21, 2011 calling on the GPH “to work on appropriate measures to effect the expeditious release” of the NDFP consultants including Jazmines. However, instead of acting favorably for Jazmines and the other NDFP consultants, the negotiating panel has set up one roadblock after another, centering on the matter of verified identification.
The initial violations of the JASIG in the arrest of Jazmines have been further aggravated by his prolonged detention at the PNP Custodial Center and the daily harassment he has to endure. Trumped-up charges of murder and frustrated murder in Tiaong, Quezon have been filed against Jazmines in a barefaced attempt to prolong his detention and prevent him from performing his duties as an NDFP consultant.
Recently, in complete disregard of the JASIG and peace negotiations, the spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), through its spokesman declared its refusal to release Jazmines. The AFP spokesman demonstrated his complete ignorance of the JASIG provision requiring either party to suspend criminal proceedings, including the arrest and detention of duly-accredited personnel in peace negotiations. Furthermore, the AFP statement raises the question of whether it is the AFP that sets the direction of the Aquino regime’s policies with regard to peace negotiations.
To sum up, the GPH should stop claiming to be in “faithful compliance” with the JASIG when it has yet to answer for the violations of the JASIG in the arrest and prolonged detention of Jazmines. To wit: (a) subjecting him to unlawful arrest in outright disregard of his Document of Identification or safe conduct pass; (b) refusing to take cognizance of the premium given by the NDFP to Jazmines as a valued peace consultant and participant in negotiations on the CASER ; © prolonging his detention by filing trumped-up criminal charges and refusing to suspend criminal proceedings against him.
The GPH is also in continued violation of the JASIG over the arrest and prolonged detention of twelve other peace consultants of the NDFP. Furthermore, the Aquino regime should also be held accountable for the gross violations of the JASIG committed by the GPH in the abduction and disappearance of key consultants Leo Velasco, Prudencio Calubid and Rogelio Calubad, among others.
To escape blame, the GPH casts doubt on the NDFP which it accuses of “consistently claim(ing) highly placed captured party members to be covered by aliases in its JASIG list, without offering any proof”. Indeed, the list of JASIG-covered NDFP personnel includes among others key officials of the CPP. This only goes to show that the CPP and NDFP give such high regard and importance to peace negotiations with the GPH. To imply that they should not be covered by the JASIG reveals the GPH’s low regard of the JASIG and the peace negotiations as a whole.
The GPH blames the NDFP for the failure of the process when the disks containing the NDFP decryption keys were corrupted after improper handling by the Dutch police which took possession of NDFP office properties in 2007 during the arrest and detention of NDFP chief consultant Jose Ma. Sison. This resulted in the failure of the verification process of the master list as stipulated by the JASIG-related agreements. The NDFP has already expressed its willingness to work with the GPH to reconstruct the JASIG master list and ensure the verifiability of such in the future.
However, the failure of the previously stipulated verification process should not be used by the GPH as justification for completely throwing out all other provisions of the JASIG and deny completely all guarantees against those NDFP consultants currently detained inside GPH jails.
In the past, JASIG-covered consultants of the NDFP were released upon cognizance of their status without having to resort to opening the safety-deposit box. The GPH can easily exercise its prerogative and undertake measures to expedite the release of the detained consultants of the NDFP for the higher objective of pushing through with the formal resumption of peace negotiations.
However, it is becoming too apparent that the GPH is not at all interested in pursuing peace negotiations with the NDFP and is only interested in keeping up the appearance of “peace negotiations” without actually respecting past agreements or working to forge new agreements to address the roots of the raging civil war in the Philippines. Instead, it is pursuing the same US-instigated fascist policy that aim to defeat the people’s struggles and armed resistance through armed suppression.