Julie de Lima
Interim Chairperson, NDFP Peace Negotiating Panel
The recent ‘conviction’ of peace consultants Frank Fernandez and his wife Cleofe Lagtapon based on trumped-up charges concocted by the Manila government further exposes the US-Marcos regime’s indifference to the cause of peace. Planting of weapons and explosives on arrested persons is a well-known modus operandi of the AFP and PNP. This practice allows them to file non-bailable charges to hold forces of the revolutionary movement in prison.
Fernandez (now aged 73), accompanied by wife Lagtapon and a companion, Gee-Ann Perez were arrested in 2019 while receiving medical treatment. International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as well as the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) protect persons – noncombatants in this case –seeking access to health care, making their arrest and detention unjust in the first place.
The continued incarceration of Fernandez and Lagtapon and other consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is an outstanding violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) duly approved by respective principals of the GRP and the NDFP. The JASIG safeguards participants in the peace negotiations from surveillance, arrest, detention, prosecution, or any other similar punitive actions.
The NDFP strongly asserts that JASIG remains in full force and effect unless otherwise terminated according to the terms of the agreement.
The abduction, killing, disappearance, illegal arrest, and torture of NDFP peace consultants expose the brutal character of the US-Marcos regime, its rabid obsession for war and patent disregard of obligations to implement existing agreements.
We demand freedom for Frank Fernandez and Cleofe Lagtapon and the immediate release of all NDFP peace consultants as a matter of humanitarian and moral obligation of the GRP and in line with the principles enshrined in JASIG and international humanitarian law.