Arroyo and her generals did not lift a finger to secure the release of Sgt. Rosete and companions

By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Committee

The case of Sgt. Jeremias Rosete, Jr. and his three companions demonstrates the utter lack of concern of GRP President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her generals for the safety and welfare of their rank and file soldiers… The NDFP Negotiating Panel had informed the GRP through its Negotiating Panel that the NDFP was willing to release Sgt. Jeremias Rosete and his three companions for humanitarian reasons as a goodwill and confidence building measure to improve the climate for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. This assurance was contained in a draft Memorandum of Understanding between the GRP and the NDFP to accelerate the peace negotiations.

By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Chairperson, NDFP Human Rights Committee

The case of Sgt. Jeremias Rosete, Jr. and his three companions demonstrates the utter lack of concern of GRP President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her generals for the safety and welfare of their rank and file soldiers.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel had informed the GRP through its Negotiating Panel that the NDFP was willing to release Sgt. Jeremias Rosete and his three companions for humanitarian reasons as a goodwill and confidence building measure to improve the climate for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. This assurance was contained in a draft Memorandum of Understanding between the GRP and the NDFP to accelerate the peace negotiations.

This common draft was worked out through ten hours of intense negotiations in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on November 30, 2001. The GRP delegation consisted of House Speaker Jose de Venecia, General Eduardo Ermita then Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Atty. Silvestre H. Bello, GRP Negotiating Panel Chair, Governor Jose Yap and Silvestre Afable III. The NDFP delegation included Luis Jalandoni, NDFP Negotiating Panel Chair, Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant, the undersigned Member of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, and Atty. Maria F. Yuvienco. The common draft was agreed upon by both sides at 2:00 a.m. on December 1, 2001. This document was to be signed in the presence of the Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, at his office in Oslo at noon on December 1, 2001.

Under Roman Numeral III on Confidence-Building and Goodwill Measures, the document stated:

“2. In the light of this mutual commitment to undertake confidence-building and goodwill measures for the talks, the NDFP shall cause the safe and orderly release of Sgt. Jeremias Rosete, Jr. and three other companions not later than February 7, 2002.”

One hour before the appointment with the Norwegian Prime Minister, while both delegations were in Oslo, the GRP delegation informed the NDFP that they could not sign the document.

Still, the NDFP offered to release the four. On December 19, 2001, the NDFP Negotiating Panel Chair wrote the GRP Negotiating Panel Chair, stating that the NDFP was willing to release Sgt. Rosete and his companions, provided the GRP would issue the required Suspension of Offensive Military and Police Operations (SOMO and SOPO) to ensure their safe and orderly release. On December 20, 2001, Atty. Silvestre Bello III, the GRP Panel Chair wrote NDFP Panel Chair Jalandoni, stating that the GRP Panel had endorsed the request for the SOMO/SOPO to the GRP President.

Despite the pleas of Mrs. Rosete and Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel, who traveled from Cotabato to Manila, the GRP President, Defense Secretary Reyes and General Ermita refused to issue the SOMO and SOPO.

By such refusal, the GRP President and Generals Angelo Reyes and Eduardo Ermita practically recognized the authority of the revolutionary movement to proceed with its judicial and legal processes against Sgt. Rosete and his companions. Sgt. Rosete and his companions were tried and found guilty beyond reasonable doubt by a people’s court of conducting espionage against the people and the revolutionary forces. Their death penalty was raised on automatic appeal to a higher court which affirmed the sentence after due deliberation and further review of the evidence. During their detention and trial, the accused were accorded humane treatment.

Notice of the carrying out of the death sentence and turning over of the remains has been subject to an appropriate period of secrecy because, especially in the case of convicted spies, the circumstances have to be kept confidential to protect the civilian communities. Moreover, there were intense military operations launched by the AFP and PNP in the area.

The GRP Negotiating Panel must look at the historical facts and direct its criticism at those who did not give a damn about the release of Sgt. Rosete and his companions, when they could easily have issued the SOMO and SOPO in response to the readiness of the NDFP to carry out their safe and orderly release.

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