UTRECHT, The Netherlands – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines insists that the political prisoners should be released prior to signing a final peace agreement.
NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Luis Jalandoni, in a statement, said “anchoring an amnesty proclamation to a final peace agreement would make the more than 400 detained political prisoners and the recently released NDF consultants as virtual hostages to the peace talks.”
He said the release of the prisoners is “a matter of compliance with the CARHRIHL and the JASIG.”
“There seems to be a disconnect between President Duterte, who commits to the expeditious release of all political prisoners through an amnesty proclamation, the GRP Peace Panel, and the legal courts in the Philippines,” Jalandoni said.
“The fabricated criminal cases that are not yet dropped are like swords of Damocles hanging over the heads of JASIG-protected consultants of the NDFP. Their freedom of movement is being restricted,” says Jalandoni, urging the GRP Peace Panel not to use the political prisoners and the recently released NDF consultants as trump cards in the peace negotiations.
The NDF said not releasing political prisoners is a “non-compliance” of the government with previously signed agreements especially the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
For his part, government negotiator Atty. Hernani Braganza assured that the government is working on the amnesty proclamation.
“I can assure you na napag-usapan na sa panel yung drafts at hindi ko lang po alam kung nasubmit na po kay Pangulong Duterte o sa executive secretary. But definitely gumagalaw at ginagawa ho ito (I can assure you that the drafts are being discussed by the panel. I’m not sure whether this was already submitted to President Duterte or to the executive secretary. But definitely this is moving and we are working on it),” he told Davao Today in an interview here Monday.
In the Joint Statement signed by the government and the NDF on August 26, 2016 it was agreed that the “the GRP Panel will immediately recommend to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte the issuance of an Amnesty Proclamation, subject to concurrence of Congress, for the release of prisoners who are listed by the NDFP and who have been arrested, imprisoned, charged, and/or convicted for alleged acts or omissions within the ambit of the Revised Penal Code or special laws in connection with alleged crimes in pursuit of one’s political beliefs.”
“The Parties will discuss the content and language of the Amnesty Proclamation,” the Joint Statement stated.
On Monday, the government peace panel head and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that a draft amnesty proclamation is already ready for submission during the second round of peace talks.
In a statement released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Bello said “the president, with the concurrence of Congress, could declare a general amnesty once the peace talks are brought to a successful conclusion.”
“The list has been narrowed down to just over 400 from a high of more than 500. As per agreement during the formal resumption of the peace talks in August, the proclamation will only cover NDF members currently detained,” Bello said. (davaotoday.com)