“He shows his bad faith, selfishness and incorrigible penchant for cruelty by putting in advance of formal talks his precondition that he will continue to violate Jasig and CAHRIHL and further on by allowing the issuance of warrants of arrest against NDFP consultants in connection with the baseless and false Hilongos charge.”
By RONALYN OLEA
MANILA — The founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) rebutted the statements of President Benigno Aquino III on the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
In a statement sent through email, Jose Maria Sison, NDFP’s chief political consultant, said, “It is Aquino who lacks sincerity in peace negotiations between the GPH and NDFP.”
Aquino was quoted in a report saying, “Government is always open to talking peace. But we also need to see their sincerity.” Aquino further said the communists have raised “impossible demands” with respect to the peace negotiations.
For the NDFP, however, Aquino “has wantonly violated the existing agreements.” Sison cited in particular The Hague Joint Declaration, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL), the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) and the Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees.
Sixteen NDFP consultants are currently detained. The NDFP has maintained that the arrest and detention of their consultants is a violation of Jasig, which provides safety, and immunity guarantees to all the participants in the peace talks.
“He shows his bad faith, selfishness and incorrigible penchant for cruelty by putting in advance of formal talks his precondition that he will continue to violate Jasig and CAHRIHL and further on by allowing the issuance of warrants of arrest against NDFP consultants in connection with the baseless and false Hilongos charge,” Sison said.
Sison is referring to the multiple murder charges against more than 70 activists, including NDFP consultants Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria, Randall Echanis, Rafael Baylosis and Vicente Ladlad, in relation to the “fake mass grave in Inopacan, Leyte.”
The case was filed in 2006 at the height of the filing of trumped-up charges against critics of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Lawyers of the NDFP consultants said the Hilongos case is “simply a recycled case filed with the sole motive of persecuting their clients.”
Five of the alleged victims, whose skeletal remains were allegedly found in Monterico village, Baybay, Leyte on June 27, 2000 were the same alleged victims in the Hilongos case, whose skeletal remains were allegedly found on August 26, 2006 in Mt. Sapang Dako, Inopacan, Leyte.
Last week, the accused were arraigned at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 despite a pending petition for certiorari filed with the Supreme Court.
Austria, Echanis, Baylosis and Ladlad are publicly known as NDFP consultants and are thus covered by Jasig. Tiamzon, meanwhile, is the holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND 978227 under the assumed name “Crising Banaag.”
At the time of the arrest in March 2014, Tiamzon and Austria both had with them a Letter of Acknowledgment signed by then GRP Negotiating Panel Chairman Silvestre H. Bello III which states: “The above named person is entitled to the safety and immunity guarantees as provided under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) for the duration of the peace negotiations. You are hereby required to facilitate the safe conduct and free passage of the above named person.”
With regard to the special track on the peace talks, Sison said Aquino has allowed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles to “sabotage every step in the so-called special track from the time of Ronald Llamas to that of Hernani Braganza.”
“Now, Deles wants to humiliate and insult the NDFP by putting forward the self-proclaimed designer of Oplan Bayanihan as the chief negotiator of the GPH,” Sison said, referring to retired Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.
“By his callous and malicious statement, probably advised by Deles, Aquino has made it necessary for the NDFP to consider again whether or not it is useful at all to negotiate with a lameduck regime which is obsessed with violating existing agreements and which is predetermined to leave a legacy of ruining the peace negotiations with the NDFP and even messing up those with the MILF by committing the Mamasapano fiasco,” Sison said.