September 17, 2021
By Julieta de Lima, Interim Chairperson
NDFP Negotiating Panel
The principled position of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines is to respect the continuity of the safety and immunity guarantees for negotiators, consultants, resource persons and staff of the NDFP and the GRP Negotiating Panels in accordance with the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
The GRP and the NDFP signed this agreement on February 24, 1995 essentially to guarantee the immunity and safety of individuals participating in the peace negotiations on both sides during and after negotiations (being in recess, suspension or even termination). Thus not one of the individuals related to the GRP Negotiating Panel has been targeted for arrest, physical attack or any punitive action by the New People’s Army.
The agreement guarantees the unhindered passage of the negotiating personnel and other persons related to the peace negotiations all over the Philippines and abroad pertinent to their responsibilities in the negotiations and guarantees their immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions before and after peace negotiations.
In contrast to the NDFP position and practice, the Duterte regime has terminated the peace negotiations in order to carry out the vilification, threat, abduction, arrest, torture and murder of NDFP negotiators, consultants, resource persons and staff. These are acts of perfidy in violation of the GRP’s own laws, its bilateral commitments, and international human rights and humanitarian law.
The public is aware of the murder of Julius Giron, Randy Felix Malayao, Randall Echanis, the couple Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio, Reynaldo Bocala; the kidnapping and imprisonment of Francisco “Frank” Fernandez, Renante Gamara, Rey Casambre, Vicente Ladlad, Adelberto Silva, all on trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
NDFP panel member Rafael Baylosis was also illegally arrested on a similar set of charges on January 31, 2018. He was eventually vindicated, when a Quezon City court dismissed the trumped up charges on the prosecution’s failure to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The excruciating torture and murder of Randall Echanis were committed during a Manila lockdown under conditions of complete control by the death squads of of the GRP. The raids which resulted in the murders of Julius Giron and the Topacio couple were also done under treacherous conditions using superior strength, when the victims were asleep and totally defenseless just like what they did to former NDFP negotiator Rustico Tan while in peaceful slumber in a hammock .
We state the foregoing to express concern and protest over the continuing abduction, torture, murder and other prejudicial actions against persons related to the NDFP Negotiating Panel or invited by it to participate in the peace process.
We are now alerted by the arrest of Loida Magpatoc, NDFP member of the Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms as expert on land reform and rural development.
In violation of the doctrine recognized in the GRP’s own jurisprudence in the Amado Hernandez case which mandates that all acts in pursuit of one’s political beliefs must be subsumed in one single case of rebellion, she is similarly subjected to the multiple charges of rebellion and a slew of false common crimes.
She is reported to be ill with COVID-19 but is detained in prison and denied adequate medical attention by health professionals. She is being displayed for psywar purposes in violation of her human dignity and the safety and perpetual immunity guarantees as provided by the JASIG.
We demand her immediate release on the ground that she is under protection of the JASIG, which remains in effect; as well as on the ground that her legal rights have been so grossly violated. She has been compelled to do social work and research in the countryside because of the brutal policy of the Duterte regime to abduct and arrest persons related to or participating in the NDFP panel negotiations with the GRP.
All GRP violations of continuing guarantees of the JASIG, as stated above, need to be rectified, redressed and obviated if resolution of the armed conflict possibly through peace negotiations by addressing its root causes is chosen as a meaningful and feasible option. #