ROME, Italy — A law on human rights passed 18 years ago only had its monitoring group functioning with the signing of guidelines on Saturday by the Philippine government and the communists here.
The Joint Monitoring Committee tasked to monitor violations and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law is now fully operational, as the GRP and NDFP signed the supplemental guidelines in Rome, Italy three days after the commencement of the third round of peace talks.
The GRP and NDFP signed the seven-page supplemental guidelines in Rome, Italy on the third day of the third round of peace talks around 10:00 am (5:00 pm Philippine time).
In his speech, GRP peace panel chairperson Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the adoption of the supplemental guidelines can help in the coming into fruition of the CARHRIHL.
“I am glad that the CARHRIHL, which I was privileged to negotiate and sign with the NDFP in 1998, can now come into fruition with the adoption today of its supplemental guidelines for the full operation of its Joint Monitoring Committee,” Bello said.
CARHRIHL was signed by both Parties in 1998 under former President Joseph Estrada.
On February 14, 2004, the operational guidelines for the JMC was crafted. The JMC was formed in April 15, 2004 and was seen as an important breakthrough of the first two rounds of GRP-NDFP in Oslo, Norway 13 years ago.
The JMC has a Joint Secretariat with an office funded by the Royal Norwegian Government. The office is located at the Immaculate Conception Multi-purpose Center in Cubao, Quezon City.
The partial guidelines of the JMC signed in June 24, 2004 provided for the entitlement of the staff and personnel directly contracted with the Joint Secretariat of the JMC to the same safety and immunity guarantees afforded to Committee members.
Bello said the full operation of the JMC “should not be difficult.”
He said the government now has “new and bold laws” which upholds human rights and the International Humanitarian Law. Bello cited the Law Against Enforced Disappearance, Anti-Torture Act, IHL Act, Human Security At, Writ of Amparo and the Writ of Kalikasan, among other laws.
NDFP negotiating panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said the signing of the supplemental guidelines will aid in processing the complaints by both sides.
“These supplemental guidelines will help the processing of the complaints, how it will be dealt by both sides and also should there be a determination, the JMC will conduct investigation,” Agcaoili said.
Agcaoili described the signing as a “very welcome development.”
“It’s definitely an advance in the ongoing peace negotiations and we thank the GRP and its monitoring committee for cooperating, helping us, that together we were able to forge this agreement,” he said.
Under Article 3, Part V of the CARHRIHL mandates the co-chairpersons of the JMC to receive complaints of violations of human rights and IHL. The co-chairpersons will also initiate requests or recommendation for the implementation of the CARHRIHL.
Those who may file include victims of alleged violations of CARHRIHL, their relatives or any person or organization “with direct, substantial or sufficient interest in the subject of the complaint.”
The co-chairpersons may undertake an initial inquiry to determine the sufficiency of the complaint that may warrant action or investigation as defined in the JMC’s operational guidelines.
The supplemental guidelines also cited the functions of the Joint Secretariat and the third party facilitator. It also cited that both Parties shall secure protection for the victims, witnesses and complainants.
In the amendments part, the guidelines stipulated that the JMC may decide to conduct a joint investigation of a complaint with the possible participation of independent international observers.
The JMC will hold its meetings every three months or as deemed necessary. (davaotoday.com)