The illegal arrest of Pedro Codaste and four companions violates the GRP-declared ceasefire

Spokesperson , NDFP-Mindanao

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Mindanao condemns the illegal arrest of Pedro Codaste and his four civilian companions on 17 December at 11 AM at Noli, Bayugan, Agusan del Sur as it is a direct violation of the self-declared ceasefire of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, and may jeopardize the effort for the mutual GRP-NDFP peace initiative.
At the time of arrest, there was no reported criminal act that may cause a warrantless arrest on the five suspected New People's Army elements, except that Pedro Codaste, according to the military, has a pending case against him.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines tipped and moved the Philippine National Police in Bayugan to deliberately spring the trap on Codaste, and simply conveniently used trumped-up criminal charges lodged purportedly in the Regional Trial Court Branch 8 in Malaybalay, Bukidnon to bolster the "validity" of their arrest.

The claim of the 4th Infantry Division's Civil-Military Operations Chief Osias that the said arrest was "not in violation of the truce" is a complete lie, because it was crystal clear that the motive for Codaste's arrest was his alleged membership and rank in the New People's Army. This gives the message that any NPA member who happens to visit their family and relatives during the Yuletide season and, at the same time, during the period of mutual ceasefire, could be arrested and jailed at the simple pretext that they have pending cases.

The illegal arrest of Codaste and four others clearly constitute a breach and shows the utter lack of sincerity on the part of the GRP and its AFP towards its declared 18-day mutual truce with the NDFP.

If Codaste is indeed an NPA member, then the GRP, together with its AFP and intelligence group, are held liable for this recent unwelcome message to the NDFP on the days left of the truce and the upcoming peace negotiations come year 2011.

Another alarming information that we get from the field is that the AFP Community organizer for Peace and development (COPD) are conducting civil military operations in areas considered NPA areas, particularly in Surigao del Norte and other parts of Mindanao. These COPD activities are part of civil military operations doing military intelligence and combat operation, as well as civilian counter-revolutionary organizing. These clearly violate the spirit of the mutually declared ceasefire.

So far, there are no reported ceasefire violations on the part of the New People's Army.

The NPA, under its terms, has observed this strictly, while ironically, the AFP has maneuvered to obtrusively sabotage the current truce. If to this effect there might be some armed clashes between the AFP and NPA forces in these places, the NPA should not be blamed.

We would bring these clear-cut cases of truce violations to the attention of the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC).

Thus, the NDFP-Mindanao challenges the AFP and PNP to sincerely observe the spirit of the mutually declared ceasefire, and demands the immediate release of Pedro Codaste and his four companions. Their continued incarceration gravely undermines not only their declared current ceasefire but also gives glitches to the very future of the talks as well.