Compliance with JASIG requires release of Alan Jazmines, other political prisoners

Compliance with JASIG requires release of Alan Jazmines and other NDFP Consultants and JASIG-Protected personnel

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

The sincerity of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) under President Noynoy Aquino is under serious question because of the failure to release Alan Jazmines and other Consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and JASIG-protected persons.

The GPH, through its Negotiating Panel, committed itself “to work for the expeditious release of detained NDFP consultants and other JASIG-protected persons in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and in the spirit of goodwill.”

Now, more than four months after that commitment was made in the Joint Communique of 18 January 2011, seventeen NDFP Consultants and JASIG-protected persons are still detained in GPH prisons.

Alan Jazmines, appointed by the NDFP national leadership as Member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER), is unable to fulfill his crucially important function for the SER negotiations which address the roots of the armed conflict. Instead of being released, he has been threatened with forcible transfer by the military.

Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara who signed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) certificate for the release of Army Major Noel Buan in April 2011 is still shackled to his bed. The NDFP demands his release in accordance with JASIG because he is publicly known to have participated in the peace process. The release of Major Buan was done to enhance the atmosphere for the peace negotiations, which were resumed in Oslo a few weeks later on 27 April 2001.

The continuing failure of the Aquino government to stand by its commitment for expeditious release in compliance with a solemn peace agreement — the JASIG — signed by both negotiating panels and approved by their respective Principals, then President Fidel Ramos and NDFP Chairman Mariano Orosa, seriously prejudices the advance of peace talks on social and economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms.

The GPH must also show concrete results of its commitment, declared during the formal talks on 15-21 February 2011, “to undertake steps for the release of prisoners and detainees”. More than 340 political prisoners await concrete action by the GPH in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

President Aquino must act decisively to honor solemn GPH commitments so that the peace negotiations can advance. Expeditious release does not mean months of non-compliance and indecision.

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