GRP suspension of JASIG is invalid and grossly violates JASIG and other agreements

Ermita's declaration of suspension of JASIG is invalid and is grossly violative of JASIG and other agreements

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) merely postponed the formal talks of the panels in the peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). The Arroyo regime lies in claiming that the NDFP “withdrew” from or “abandoned” the peace negotiations… Ermita’s announcement of a unilateral suspension of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) reveals the Arroyo regime’s lack of correct understanding of the full import and scope of the protection of the JASIG.

Ermita's declaration of suspension of JASIG is invalid and is grossly violative of JASIG and other agreements

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) merely postponed the formal talks of the panels in the peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). The Arroyo regime lies in claiming that the NDFP “withdrew” from or “abandoned” the peace negotiations.

The NDFP postponed the formal talks to give time to the Arroyo regime to comply with the peace agreements in connection with certain prejudicial questions. After the regime repeatedly refused to comply with the agreements, the NDFP postponed the formal talks until a new regime would arise and be willing to fulfil the GRP’s obligations in accordance with the GRP-NDFP agreements.

Ermita’s announcement of a unilateral suspension of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) reveals the Arroyo regime’s lack of correct understanding of the full import and scope of the protection of the JASIG.

First and foremost, the safety and immunity guarantees contained therein have been reciprocally extended by the GRP and the NDFP to each other’s participants in the peace negotiations. These guarantees are not a unilateral concession or favor extended by the GRP to the NDFP or to the latter’s panel members, consultants and personnel.

Abrogation of the JASIG by either or both sides will not affect, impair or infringe upon the democratic rights and freedoms of the Filipino people, both combatants and non-combatants or civilian population, particularly those which are protected and guaranteed by the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), international law and international conventions, and the constitutions and laws of the GRP and the NDFP as parties to the armed conflict.

The immunity guarantees of the JASIG which have been acquired and vested in the participants in the course of the peace negotiations cannot be unilaterally denounced or repudiated by either side in the peace negotiations. All immunities acquired by virtue of the JASIG shall remain in full force and effect even after the termination of the JASIG.

The JASIG does not provide for a suspension, much less a unilateral and indefinite suspension. The JASIG does provide for a termination of the agreement by formal written notice of one party to the other. The JASIG having been approved by the Principals of both the GRP and the NDFP can only be terminated by explicit approval of the Principal of the party that issues the written notice of termination. Thirty days after receipt of such written notice, the termination of the agreement takes effect. However, even after such termination, the immunity guarantees remain in full force and effect.

It is therefore clear that Ermita’s announcement of a unilateral and indefinite suspension of the JASIG is invalid. Furthermore, the written notice of indefinite suspension sent by fax yesterday by Nieves Confesor of the GRP Panel is likewise invalid.

In violating the JASIG, Ermita, Confesor and their like are engaged in violating a chain of agreements, including the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). They seek to harm all persons duly-authorized by the NDFP to participate in the peace negotiations as panellists, consultants and staffers, including the NDFP-designated officers, staffers, consultants and volunteers working for the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) and its Manila-based Joint Secretariat (JS). The bloodhounds of the Arroyo regime have in fact intensified their surveillance and harassment of persons protected by JASIG and CARHRIHL.

The NDFP takes into account that the GRP military and police have never ceased from carrying out military and police operations against the revolutionary forces represented by the NDFP. The GRP military and police continue to violate human rights with impunity and commit acts of terrorism against civilians and civilian communities in the conduct of the armed conflict. Ermita’s bellicose statements and threats are an open call for attacks against legal persons and forces the Arroyo regime perceives as enemies.

Ermita is trying to destroy all confidence in the peace negotiations by treacherously seeking to arrest and hunt down all those duly authorized by the NDFP to participate in the peace negotiations under the JASIG and in the work of the JMC under the CARHRIHL. The Arroyo regime must be forewarned that not all those in the NDFP list covered by JASIG and the NDFP-designated personnel in JMC and JS are members of the revolutionary forces represented by the NDFP. Some are experts giving their advice to the NDFP as consultants. Others are staff and technical personnel.

The NDFP shall hold the Arroyo regime responsible for any harm done to any of those in the NDFP list covered by the JASIG and those NDFP-designated personnel in JMC and JS under the CARHRIHL. This must be stated because in the past the GRP had repeatedly violated the JASIG by illegally arresting and detaining those in the NDFP list covered by JASIG, such as Sotero Llamas in May 1995, Danilo Borjal in November 1996 and Vicente Ladlad in June 1999, among others.

Ermita is exposing his mean and brutal character. He was associated with the use of motorcycle-riding killers during the Aquino regime when the military tried to destroy Partido ng Bayan. Motorcycle-riding killers of the state have again become the fashion under the Arroyo regime. Ermita is among the militarists who have been trying to scuttle the peace negotiations. Even now, Arroyo is already encircled by the military junta of Ramos, Ermita, Angelo Reyes, Mendoza, Ebdane and Lomibao.

If the Arroyo regime terminates the peace negotiations as did former President Estrada in 1999, the NDFP and the regime succeeding the Arroyo regime can revive the peace negotiations. After the fall of the Arroyo regime, the successful broad united front and mass movement would generate better conditions for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. In the meantime, the Arroyo regime’s all-out war policy against the revolutionary forces and the people will only hasten its downfall. It will only further inflame the people to intensify their struggle against the corrupt and brutal regime.

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