NDFP letter to GRP protesting enforced disappearance of NDFP Consultant Leo Velasco

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Member, NDFP National Executive Committee

Madame President:

On behalf the National Executive Committee of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and as Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, I protest in the strongest terms possible the abduction and enforced disappearance of Mr. Leo Velasco, NDFP Consultant in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, on Monday, February 19, 2007 in Cagayan de Oro by six heavily armed men who introduced themselves as your government’s agents.

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Member, NDFP National Executive Committee

Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang, Manila

Through the GRP Negotiating Panel
4th Floor Agustin I Bldg., Emerald Ave.
Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Metro Manila

Madame President:

On behalf the National Executive Committee of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and as Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, I protest in the strongest terms possible the abduction and enforced disappearance of Mr. Leo Velasco, NDFP Consultant in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, on Monday, February 19, 2007 in Cagayan de Oro by six heavily armed men who introduced themselves as your government’s agents.

Mr. Leo Velasco is a duly accredited person in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, a holder of a Document of Identification issued by the NDFP, and is entitled to safety and immunity guarantees in accordance with the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). His abduction and enforced disappearance is likewise a grave violation of the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). It is also a flagrant violation of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which the Republic of the Philippines is a State Party.

The NDFP demands his immediate release. Failure by you as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to order and effectuate his immediate release will make you accountable under the universally accepted and applicable principle of command responsibility. This principle applies also to the AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon, the Commanding Officer of the 4th Infantry Division, the Commanding Officer of the PNP and the Commanding Officer of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), among others.

Witnesses saw the armed men literally throw Mr. Velasco into a gray L300 van with license plates LCV-513 near Aguinaldo and Yacapin streets in Cagayan de Oro City about 10:30 a.m. on February 19, 2007. The armed men used as a back-up vehicle, a black Toyota Revo with license plates ending in “692”. A police officer said, on condition of anonymity, according to a newspaper report, that the van matched the description of a vehicle being used by intelligence agents of the military during “special operations”. Witnesses said one of the armed men wore a sleeveless jacket with the markings “CIDG”.

All the responsible AFP and PNP officials in the region have denied knowing about the abduction. Is this a case of what UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston referred to in his press statement, “The AFP is in almost complete self-denial”?

The abduction of Mr. Leo Velasco is the latest of several cases of abductions of NDFP consultants. In this regard, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines reiterates its longstanding demand for the immediate surfacing and release of other NDFP Consultants, Staff and immediate relatives who have been abducted and subjected to involuntary disappearances, namely:

  • Mr. Rogelio Calubad and his son, Gabriel, who were abducted on June 17, 2006 in Bangkuruhan Village, Calauag, Quezon. A witness told KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) that two men on a motorcycle blocked the motorcycle of the Calubads and forced them down. Then four men in a dark-colored van forced Rogelio into the van; while Gabriel was taken in the abductors’ motorcycle.
  • Mr. Prudencio Calubid, his wife Celine Palma, and their companions, Ariel Beloy and Gloria Soco were abducted around 5 p.m. on June 26, 2006 along the Maharlika Highway near Sipocot, Camarines Sur by soldiers in uniform. The soldiers were with a red Tamaraw FX and four Toyota Revos. A survivor, Antonio Lacno, who escaped the following day, gave a written testimony of the abduction.
  • Mr. Leopoldo Ancheta who was abducted about 6:30 p.m. on June 24, 2006 in front of the South Supermarket in Guiguinto Bulacan. Witnesses said that the abductors used a silver Toyota Revo with its plate number concealed with plastic.
  • Mr. Philip Limjoco who was involuntarily disappeared on May 8, 2006. He had brought his son Glen to the bus station in Dau, Pampanga about 8:20 a.m. .Within the day he could no longer respond to the cell phone call of his son. Since then he has not returned to his home.
  • We likewise vigorously condemn the extra-judicial killing of NDFP Political Consultant Sotero Llamas on May 29, 2006. This occurred soon after he was visited and threatened by an AFP intelligence agent. We have long protested against the repeated attempts to assassinate UN Judge ad litem Romeo T. Capulong, Senior Legal Adviser of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, on March 7, 2005 and on March 31, 2005.

For all these gross violations of the JASIG, the CARHRIHL, and the ICCPR, among others, we hold you, as Commander-in-Chief of the AFP and the PNP accountable under the principle of command responsibility. We demand the immediate surfacing of the involuntarily disappeared NDFP Consultants and Personnel, their immediate release, the prosecution and punishment of those who perpetrated, sanctioned, or condoned these gross violations and indemnification for the victims and their families.

The accumulated number of NDFP Consultants, Staff and their immediate relatives involuntarily disappeared and summarily executed and huge number of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and frustrated killings under your regime constitute an added heavy impediment to the resumption of GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. It is apparently your decision never to resume the formal talks in the peace negotiations before you leave office in 2010. But the demand for justice against the human rights violations under your regime will be taken into account in any future resumption of the formal talks, You will continue to be accountable for having unduly scuttled the peace negotiations in favor of your vain illusion of succeeding with a military solution under the failed Oplan Bantay Laya I and the now failing Bantay Laya II.

We join all human rights and peace-loving advocates in the Philippines and in the international community in demanding that you, as Commander-in-Chief of the AFP and the PNP, put an immediate stop to the extra-judicial killings of unarmed civilians now numbering more than 830 since 2001 when you assumed power, to the enforced and involuntary disappearances now exceeding 200 and the frustrated killings whose victims number more than 300.

Madame President, you are under the heaviest of obligations, as Commander-in-Chief of the AFP and the PNP, to put an immediate stop to all these grave violations of the CARHRIHL, the JASIG, the ICCPR and other international conventions on human rights and international humanitarian law, including the principle of command responsibility which is directly applicable to you. If you recall, as so well pointed out by the Melo Commission, the unlamented Mr. Marcos could not escape command responsibility in the human rights case against him in the US. There are also now internationally more effective laws against ill-gotten wealth and money laundering related to corruption and human rights violations.

On behalf of the NDFP National Executive Committee and the NDFP Negotiating Panel:

LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Member, NDFP National Executive Committee

Copy furnished:
Royal Norwegian Government c/o Mr. Tore Hattrem, Deputy Director General, Royal Norwegian Foreign Ministry
UN Working Group on Involuntary and Enforced Disappearances
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Prof. Philip Alston
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) c/o Mr. Felipe Donoso, Head of Delegation in the Philippines

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