NDFP Negotiating Panel
13 May 2018
We, in the NDFP panel for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, view with great concern newspaper reports about an NPA leader, Elizalde Cañete, being arrested on May 12 while receiving treatment for wounds in Don Carlos Hospital in the province of Bukidnon. We remind the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) of its obligations under CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) that the GRP and the NDFP have signed as the first substantive item in the agenda of the peace negotiations.
The pertinent provisions in the CARHRIHL are those in Part IV, Article 4, nos. 1 and 6, thus:
1. Persons hors de combat and those who do not take direct part in hostilities are entitled to respect for their lives, dignity, human rights, political convictions and their moral and physical integrity and shall be protected in all circumstances and treated humanely without any distinction founded on race, color, faith, sex, birth, social standing or any other similar criteria.
6. All persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict shall be treated humanely, provided with adequate food and drinking water, and be afforded safeguards as regards to health and hygiene, and be confined in a secure place…On humanitarian or other reasonable grounds, such persons deprived of liberty shall be considered for safe release.
We are grateful to the Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP) and its convenor, Bishop Hamuel Tequis, for calling on the GRP to release Cañete on humanitarian grounds and in line with efforts for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP. The EJP has acted several times in the past as third party facilitator in the release of prisoners of war (POWs) by the NPA.
Bishop Tequis pointed out that the NPA has released GRP soldiers and policemen held as POWs. The GRP he said should reciprocate this gesture of goodwill.
We admonish the GRP to honor its commitments under CARHRIHL. Likewise, we warn the GRP that any harm done to Cañete can have adverse consequences to the efforts of both sides to resume the peace negotiations. It can jeopardize the back-channel talks for making preparations for the resumption of the stalled peace talks that have already reached an advanced stage.
FIDEL V AGCAOILI
Chairperson, Negotiating Panel
National Democratic Front of the Philippines