NDFP assails growing threats vs consultants, peace talks

NDFP Media Office | Press release | May 13, 2017

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) denounced a series of incidents involving a number of its consultants, saying these are flagrant violations of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The JASIG, which was signed in 1995, provides all duly accredited NDFP consultants immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation and “any other similar punitive actions due to any involvement or participation in the peace negotiations.” The guarantees extend to persons who assist them in the performance of their work in the peace talks.

NDFP panel chair Fidel Agcaoili cited the tailing of fellow panel member Benito Tiamzon and NDFP political consultant Wilma Tiamzon on Tuesday night after they visited Lapanday farm workers who were camped out at Mendiola. The Tiamzons were reportedly tailed by two men aboard an RS motorcycle with partial license plate number 2419. They tried to shake off their tail for about half an hour before deciding to return to the Mendiola camp out, from where friends and comrades helped them evade their pursuers. The Tiamzons noticed that the back rider was constantly talking to someone on his cellphone while tailing them.

At the camp out, witnesses observed the motorcyle riders following the Tiamzons mingling with the crowd. They were reportedly backed up by at least two other teams of two men each who also monitored the Tiamzon couple’s movements.

The Tiamzons had also just come from an audience with President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacañang the night they were followed.

It was the third JASIG violation reported by the Tiamzons. They were also tailed in March after their arrival from backchannel talks in The Netherlands. Earlier, suspected military agents had interrogated the driver of a rented car used by the Tiamzons upon their arrival last January from the third round of peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Other NDFP consultants who have also complained of surveillance include Ruben Saluta, Concha Araneta, Tirso Alcantara, Ernesto Lorenzo and Kennedy Bangibang.
Agcaoili urged the GRP to look seriously into these incidents and take whatever measures are necessary, saying that they may have severe repercussions on the ongoing peace negotiations.

He moreover expressed “grave concern” about reports that the military in Northern Mindanao had issued shoot-to-kill orders against NDFP consultant Pedro Codaste and that the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command was planning to abduct Porferio Tuna, another Mindanao-based consultant.

Agcaoili also slammed the illegal arrest last Thursday evening of NDFP consultant ROMMEL SALINAS as another clear violation of JASIG. Salinas, who was arrested at a police checkpoint in Ozamiz City is the holder of Document of Identification Number ND 978453 under the name of Hermie Abella. He was arrested in the company of a bishop of the Philippine Independent Church and two others. ###

Reference:
Fidel Agcaoili
NDFP Panel Chairperson
Contact No. 0919-860-4324