NDFP Strongly Condemns the Unjust Arrest of Frank Fernandez and Companions and Demands Their Immediate Release

Fidel V. Agcaoili, Chairperson NDFP Negotiating Panel
Press Statement | March 25, 2019

NDFP Panel Chair Fidel V. Agcaoili

Frank Fernandez is a publicly known consultant of the NDFP in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations as NDFP spokesperson in Negros. He holds Document of Identification Number PP 978544 as provided for in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

The JASIG is an agreement between the two Parties in armed conflict. It has been duly approved by their respective Principals. And there is a required protocol for its termination. So, no matter how many times President Rodrigo Duterte unilaterally flip-flops from resuming and then terminating the peace talks, the JASIG remains in full force and effect unless otherwise terminated according to the terms of the agreement. In fact the immunity guarantees of Frank Fernandez extends even after the actual termination of the peace talks.

Moreover, Frank Fernandez, who is 71 years old and has been ill for some time, had to come down from Negros for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife, Cleofe Lagtapon, and a companion, Gee-Ann Perez. For humanitarian considerations alone, he should not have been arrested and allowed to receive unhampered medical treatment. With his unjust arrest, the Duterte regime runs the risk of adding another detainee to the list of three political prisoners who died in prison from June 2016, in violation of international humanitarian law and the minimum prison standards recognized by civilized nations.

Frank Fernandez and his companions were reported to have been arrested last Sunday in Nagcarlan, Laguna. However, details of where they are incarcerated are still unclear. This poses grave danger to their health and lives. Its incumbent upon their custodial units to forthwith present Frank Fernandez and his companions to their relatives and lawyers in order for him to receive his medicines and assure that their rights and well-being are respected.

We demand that Frank Fernandez and his companions be released immediately as a matter of principle, justice and humanity.###

Setting the Record Straight

Fidel Agcaoili
Chairperson, NDFP Peace Panel

The February 27, 2019 press release of the Philippine News Agency as published in Manila Bulletin is way off the mark.

For the record, I am not a lawyer, never had the ambition to be one despite coming from a family of lawyers.

So I have nothing to do with the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, though some of its members happen to be legal consultants of the NDFP Negotiating Panel even before the organization was founded, as well as legal counsels of detained NDFP consultants and political prisoners.

Such happenstance does not make NUPL a so-called front of the Communist Party nor are the concerned lawyers as members of the Party. In accordance with due process, it is for any court of law, be it revolutionary or reactionary, to determine the truth of such allegations through competent and admissible evidence and not through manufactured witnesses or planted evidence like what is brazenly happening now.

But red-tagging has a more sinister objective. It is meant to smear any organization or individual to set them up for the kill, as has been shown in many cases in the past such as those of NDFP consultant Randy Malayao and NUPL lawyer Benjamin Ramos.

The peace-spoilers in the GRP security cluster are having a heyday, before but especially after GRP Executive Order 70, engaging in a wild frenzy of anti-communist witch hunting against legal democratic organizations, individuals and the parliamentary opposition. They have even become bold enough to disrespect and challenge the pronouncements of their commander-in-chief. But I leave it up to them to sort out their differences.###

Rehashed amended petition to proscribe CPP-NPA is a piece of legal fiction with dire consequences for the people

Statement of the NDFP Negotiating Panel
18 January 2019

NDFP Panel Chair Fidel V. Agcaoili

The amended petition submitted by the Department of Justice of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) seeking to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) is a piece of legal fiction with dire consequences for the people.

The Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which represents these allied organizations in peace negotiations views the amended petition as part of the GRP’s desperate moves to impose a full-blown fascist dictatorship, scrap the May 2019 elections, and establish a fake federal state with local dynasties beholden to the dictator in control of the so-called regional states.

The amended petition is groundless and merely a rehash of previously disproven charges in old cases, both in the Philippines and abroad, that have either been definitively resolved, dismissed with finality, and obviously prescribed or are already being contested in proceedings before GRP courts – against trumped up charges with the use of moving skeletons and manufactured witnesses as evidence.

Moreover, the link between the eight remaining individuals alleged to be officers of the CPP and NPA and the purported terrorist acts does not exist. Such legal hocus-focus completely disregards accepted international principles and practices on due process, double jeopardy, bill of attainder, freedom of thought, and the like.

Up to now there is still no acceptable definition of terrorism in the world. The United Nations (UN) has none. Even the GRP’s own Human Security Act tacks its meaning on a broad compilation of acts already deemed as offenses in its penal laws. The Act only serves to set aside and in effect nullify without any just basis the GRP’s long established jurisprudence on the Hernandez political offense doctrine.

The amended petition caps the all-out “legal offensive” by the GRP against the revolutionary forces, starting with Proclamations 360 (terminating peace negotiations) and 374 (declaring CPP and NPA as “terrorist organizations”), as well as Memorandum Order No. 32 (deployment of more security forces in selected areas to suppress “lawless violence and acts of terror”) and Executive Order 70 (creating national task force to end “local communist armed conflict”), coupled with an insidious arsenal of tools that have resulted in the illegal arrests of NDFP consultants that undermine the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other binding bilateral agreements.

The petition is definitely against the interest of the Filipino people who desire a just and lasting peace through negotiations and agreements on social, economic and political reforms. For the GRP to attempt to proscribe the CPP and NPA makes returning to the negotiating table to address the roots of the armed conflict even more complicated if not altogether impossible.

On the principled basis that the CPP and NPA adhere to the people’s democratic government, which has its own judicial system, the CPP and NPA cannot and will not enter the GRP court to participate in the proceedings.

The NDFP, however, is gravely concerned of the dire and adverse impact and consequence of the amended petition to legal democratic organizations and activists due to the GRP’s policy of linking activists and government critics to the CPP and NPA and tagging them as “terrorists” or involved with “terrorist organizations and acts.” There is imminent danger that they will be subjected to the arbitrary measures allowed under the Human Security Act.

The CPP and NPA will continue to defend the national and democratic aspirations of the Filipino people to achieve thoroughgoing land reform, national industrialization, environmental protection, and genuine national sovereignty. Hence, any attempt of the GRP to proscribe and brand the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations will be futile.###

Fidel V. Agcaoili