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JASIG

ON DOCUMENTS OF IDENTIFICATION OR SAFE CONDUCT PASSES

in Statements
Fidel V. Agcaoili
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Press Statement | March 23, 2019
https://goo.gl/x2zrxx

For the information of Gen. Galvez and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, it is not a crime to participate in peace negotiations and to possess a document of identification or safe conduct pass in order to do so.

The Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) mandates the two Parties to issue documents of identification or safe conduct passes to negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel to enable the Parties to hold peace negotiations and forge comprehensive agreements on human rights and international humanitarian law, social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces in order to pave the way for a just and lasting peace in the country.

Except for the negotiators who are appointed by the respective principals of the Parties, the consultants, staffers, security and other personnel in the peace negotiations are chosen for their experience and expertise in the fields of economics, politics, law and human rights – both international and domestic, – military, etc., as well as their capability to consult with concerned communities and organizations on matters pertinent to the peace negotiations to move these forward.

In any legal and judicial system, criminal offenses are defined in law, codified and enriched in jurisprudence. Under the laws of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), there is no crime attached to participation in peace negotiations or being holders of documents of identification or safe conduct passes.

Mr. Renante Gamara is protected from arrest under the JASIG as a publicly known consultant of the NDFP for political and constitutional reforms. Even under GRP laws, he could not be the subject of arrest because there is no warrant against him and he has an outstanding bail on the case with which he is charged. But his arresting unit resorted to the usual ploy of planting evidence in order to charge him with the trumped up offense of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, as in the cases of NDFP consultants Edilberto Silva, Vic Ladlad and Rey Claro Casambre.

On the other hand, Fr. Art Balagat is a priest who was based abroad for a long time and had recently returned to the Philippines to retire in the Diocese of Imus, Cavite. He is neither a participant nor a holder of document of identification or safe conduct pass in the peace negotiations. But he was during the time of the Marcos dictatorship, the spokesperson of the Justice for Aquino, Justice for All (JAJA) movement. His arrest smacks of the regime’s irrational and unrelenting assault and persecution of church people.

The militarists in the GRP’s security cluster are fond of ignoring and violating their own laws, more so today under an enabling commander-in-chief whose apparent preferred solution to the nation’s problems is to intimidate, terrorize, jail or kill his opponents, suspected drug users from the poor, peasant activists, trade unionists, lawyers and human rights defenders. But there is a limit to his threatening speeches, brutal ways, corrupt practices, and treasonous policies. It will soon be reached.

Memories of The Hague Joint Declaration

in Mainstream
by Luis Jalandoni
DOWNLOAD:
Special Issue for the 25th Anniversary of The Hague Joint Declaration
NDFP Representative at the 
Signing of The Hague Joint Declaration
September 1, 1992

 

Both delegations of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) were ready to finalize the text of The Hague Joint Declaration. The media were waiting.

Due to the intense discussion on the use of the GRP Constitution as the guide of the peace negotiations and the NDFP insistence that we also had our own Constitution and Program, I proposed to put into the text: NO SURRENDER!

GRP delegate, Col. Cesar Garcia, strongly reacted: NO!

A moment of tension and impasse!

It was Prof. Jose Maria Sison who broke the impasse. He proposed the text: “No precondition that negates the inherent character and purpose of peace negotiations shall be imposed.”

Relief! Both sides accepted the alternative. This meant enshrining of the principle of non-capitulation, the principle of parity and reciprocity. Imposition by one party of its constitution would mea the submission of the other. There would no longer be any peace negotiation.

The Hague Joint Declaration also defined the substantive agenda of the negotiations: respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. This ensured that the peace negotiations must address the roots of the armed conflict.

 

Recognizing the Judicial and Legal System of the Reactionary Government

Two years earlier, in September 1990, the NDFP representatives met with leaders of the Farabundo Marti Liberation Movement (FMLN). We asked the FMLN leaders, “Why did you accept the judicial and legal system of the Salvadoran government?” Their answer: “Because it is de facto.”

Our group led by Prof. Sison responded: “If you accept the judicial and legal system of the reactionary government as de facto, and you do not assert the judicial and legal system of your revolutionary movement as ALSO de facto, you may fall into the danger of capitulation!”

A day after the FMLN signed their peace deal with the Salvadoran government, a former FMLN guerrila fighter later narrated: “The landlords and military forcibly took away all our gains in the agrarian revolution!”

 

The Experience of the Moro National Liberation Front at the Tripoli Agreement of 1976

At Tripoli, Libya in December 1976, Nur Misuari, Chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was put under heavy pressure by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The OIC,  led by Moammar Khadafi, insisted that Nur Misuari agree to put in writing that the GRP Constituion is the guide to the GRP-MNLF Agreement. An eyewitness to that event, Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Pacifico Castro, narrated this to us. It was like a dagger in the heart of Nur Misuari, said Secretary Castro.

 

Attacks against The Hague Joint Declaration by Secretary Deles and Mr. Padilla of the GRP

The principle of non-capitulation, parity and reciprocity was targeted for attack by Secretary Teresita Deles and Alexander Padilla. In February 2011, the GRP Negotiating Panel led by Padilla declared The Hague Joint Declaration as “a document of perpetual division”. This attack on the framework and foundation of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations was followed by the attack of Secretary Deles and Mr. Padilla on the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as “inoperative”. Padilla likewise attacked the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) as “an NDFP propaganda document”.

 

Continuing Relevance of The Hague Joint Declaration

Up to now, 25 years after, and in the future, THJD, is very relevant. The principle of non-capitulation, parity and reciprocity must be upheld to effectively oppose the United Nations’ paradigm of DDR, Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration, and other attempts at undermining revolutionary movements striving for national and social liberation, genuine independence and a just and lasting peace.

“If you accept the judicial and legal system of the reactionary government as de facto, and you do not assert the judicial and legal system of your revolutionary movement as ALSO de facto, you may fall on the danger of capitulation!”

NDFP Peace Consultants as Desaparecidos

in Gallery

The reactionary governments, through their state security forces, resort to abduction and enforced disappearance to silence those who openly oppose and criticize their oppressive and repressive policies and pose a threat to their rule.

Among the thousands of victims of enforced disappearance in the Philippines under various regimes were the National Democratic Front peace consultants who were abducted when the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime stalled the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). This was also part of then Arroyo regime’s implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2.

The abduction and disappearance of the NDFP peace consultants violated the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Victims’ relatives filed writ of habeas corpus with the courts and lodged complaints with the Commission on Human Rights but nothing came out of these. Witnesses were afraid or threatened. Nobody was held accountable. Perpetrators were even rewarded with promotions. The culture of impunity persisted.
The GRP has yet to face responsibility for these cases of abduction and enforced disappearances and other human rights violations.

Enforced disappearance is not only ferocious, but also most excruciating for the victims’ relatives. Through the years, they have hoped and waited for their loved ones to surface, although deep inside they knew they were hoping against hope. The loss of their loved ones was difficult to accept. But as their hopes never dim, so does their fortitude to stand up for what their loved ones had fought for. ###

Freeing Political Prisoners: A Matter of Obligation and Justice

in Mainstream

The release of over 400 political prisoners is a key issue in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The NDFP stands on just ground when it calls on the GRP to release all political prisoners in compliance with the agreements previously signed by the two parties, specifically, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Both parties reaffirmed the validity of the CARHRIHL and JASIG in a joint statement on Aug. 26, 2016 and also during the third round of talks in Rome, Italy on January 2017. They also completed the supplemental guidelines for the full implementation of the CARHRIHL.

The CARHRIHL, signed and approved in 1998, guarantees the immediate release of prisoners who have been  charged, detained, or convicted with common crimes instead of political offenses like rebellion or sedition. Part III, Article 6 of the CARHRIHL states that the GRP “shall abide by its doctrine laid down in People vs. [Amado V.]Hernandez… and shall forthwith review the cases of all prisoners or detainees who have been charged, detained, or convicted contrary to this doctrine, and shall immediately release them.”

The majority of the more than 400 political detainees has been charged with trumped-up and common non-bailable crimes—a serious violation of the CARHRIHL and the Hernandez “political offense” doctrine, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in many instances. The release of the political prisoners, therefore, is a state obligation and not a favor being handed by the GRP. Hence, this is not a mere matter of confidence building measure for the peace talks.

President Duterte himself agrees that the practice of criminalizing political acts is unjust; a practice that was started under the Corazon C. Aquino government. In a meeting with NDFP leaders and consultants at Malacanang Palace in August 2016, Pres. Duterte promised to stop the practice of criminalizing the actions of political prisoners in pursuance of their beliefs. The practice, however, continues as 30 activists arrested and detained under the Duterte administration are still being charged with the same criminal offenses.

CARHRIHL is intended to correct the injustices done against political prisoners as far back as the Marcos Martial Law Dictatorship, including the nullification of repressive presidential decrees carried over to the succeeding administrations. With the signing of the  Supplemental Guidelines for the full operation of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of CARHRIHL, there should no longer be any hindrance in the government’s commitment to adhere and fully implement the CARHRIHL. The JMC is the body tasked to administer the  GPH-NDFP implementation of the CARHRIHL.

The JASIG—which is again operational after the Duterte government unilaterally terminated it in February 2017—also guarantees safety and immunity for the unhampered participation of NDFP personnel involved in the peace negotiations and “to avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiations.”

The two agreements are more than enough legal bases for the Duterte government to release political prisoners and render justice and rectify their unlawful and unjust detention.

And while the prospects for a general amnesty proclamation still hang in the balance, the NDFP and its legal consultants are working for other modes of release of political prisoners, even if temporary such as in the cases of the peace talks consultants.

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