By FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Spokesperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
In declaring the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) “inoperative”, Atty. Alex Padilla, Chairperson of the Negotiating Panel of the Government of the Philippines (GPH, formerly designated as the GRP), has practically terminated the JASIG without the required issuance of a notice of termination by the GPH principal.
He brazenly violates the JASIG and spits on the signature of the GPH principal. He usurps the authority of his principal and steps on his head. He is unleashing a surprise attack by removing the safety and immunity guarantees for the protection of persons involved in the peace negotiations and by emboldening the armed agents of the GPH to attack them.
The JASIG has been duly approved by the principals of both parties (Fidel V. Ramos and Mariano Orosa on 25 April 1995 and 10 April 1995, respectively) in the peace negotiations between the GPH/GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). It can only be terminated by written notice of either principal, as was done by Joseph Estrada on 31 May 1999.
The JASIG protects not only the holders of Documents of Identification (DI) of the NDFP but also those publicly-known to be involved in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations as negotiators, consultants, staff, researchers, security personnel and couriers of both sides. Moreover, the JASIG makes possible the peace negotiations which can be ended only when any principal decides to terminate the JASIG by issuing the required notice of termination 30 days in advance before it takes effect.
Padilla is determined to end the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. As a lawyer, he should know that encrypted photographs are photographs. He also knows that encrypting these is dictated by security considerations and the verification of these photographs is not mandatory in the JASIG as he himself and his predecessors, Howard Dee and Silvestre Bello III, have done.
Padilla is indeed a fool for failing to know and respect the full scope and terms of the JASIG despite his being a lawyer and the GPH chief negotiator. He is killing the peace negotiations by blocking the release of all or most of the JASIG-protected persons in violation of the JASIG and the 2011 Oslo joint statements.
Compliance with signed agreements is an absolute requirement in any peace negotiations. It puts the sincerity of the parties to the test. OPAPP Secretary Deles and Padilla are completely destroying the prospect of a just peace through negotiations by attacking and seeking to nullify The Hague Joint Declaration and the JASIG.
As early as May 2011, the NDFP proposed to the GPH the public exchange of drafts on social and economic reforms in the presence of representatives of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG). It was Padilla who blocked said exchange of drafts which should have opened the way to well-informed and intelligent dialogue between the reciprocal working committees concerned.
Now, he is making impossible the formal meetings of the panels and the reciprocal working committees on social and economic reforms by reneging on the obligation of the GPH to release all or most of the JASIG-protected persons. He is misrepresenting as precondition the demand for compliance with obligations under the Oslo joint statements of January and February. If small obligations cannot be fulfilled by the GPH, how can the people expect it to fulfill its obligations under a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms?