Arrest of peace consultant ‘violation of past agreement,’ NDFP says

Rafael Baylosis (rightmost) and other NDFP consultants in an activity held in Sept 2016. (Bulatlat file photo)

NDFP senior adviser and former chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni said that President Duterte “must be held accountable for this trampling upon a valid peace agreement.”

By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Kodao Productions

MANILA — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) maintained that the arrest of one of its long-time consultant is a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).

Rafael Baylosis and his companion Roque Guillermo Jr. were arrested on Katipunan ave. in Quezon City yesterday, Jan. 31, by combined elements of police and intelligence operatives and are now detained at Camp Crame, according to human rights alliance Karapatan.

In a statement, NDFP senior adviser and former chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni said that President Duterte “must be held accountable for this trampling upon a valid peace agreement.”

Jalandoni was referring to the Jasig, which was signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the NDFP in 1995. It provides all panel members, consultants, staff and security personnel participating in the peace negotiations immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive action. It is supposed to remain valid until 30 days after a party’s receipt of formal notification of termination of the peace talks by the other.

The NDFP earlier said they have yet to receive such formal notification from the GRP after President Rodrigo Duterte verbally ordered the termination of peace negotiations in December last year.

In the absence of a formal termination of the negotiations, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison said the NDFP is asking the GRP to respect the Jasig to keep open the possible resumption of the peace negotiations.

Baylosis is the first consultant to have been arrested since Duterte’s order. He was arrested days before the scheduled launch of the NDFP’s Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser) full draft.

Baylosis is known to be suffering from several illnesses.

Jalandoni called on “all peace-loving people and organizations” to mount a strong campaign demanding Baylosis and Guillermo’s immediate release. He added that peace advocates should also demand that President Duterte respect and implement the JASIG, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other binding peace agreements.

“President Duterte must not be allowed to kill and destroy the peace negotiations,” he added.

GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III could not be reached for comment despite attempts by Kodao to call his mobile phone.

As of December 31, 2017, there were 486 political prisoners and 145 of whom were arrested under the Duterte administration. Six of them are peace consultants and Jasig-protected. Reposted by ()

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