‘Rearrest of NDFP peace consultants violates peace agreement’ – rights group

“A unilateral declaration by one side without the proper written notice duly received by the other, no matter how categorical yet at the same unjustified, does not make the grade and does not bind the latter.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Human rights group Karapatan condemned the recent order of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) to rearrest National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiating panel member Benito Tiamzon and peace consultants Wilma Austria Tiamzon and Adelberto Silva.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the rearrest order on the Tiamzons and Silva is a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), which was signed by the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Palabay said Jasig guarantees the protection of the rights of the negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel who participate in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. Those who are protected under Jasig should be free from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions due to any involvement or participation in the peace negotiations.

The Tiamzon couple and Silva were granted bail on Aug. 11, 2016 by Manila RTC Branch 32 Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina.

In a Jan. 11 decision, Medina has ordered the rearrest of the TImazons and Silva after granting the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s motion for recommitment and cancellation of bail.

According to a news report, Medina said the “court found no reason to further allow their temporary liberty following President Duterte’s Proclamation No. 360, which terminated the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP.”

Duterte signed Proclamation No. 360 in November last year.

Palabay said the rearrest of Tiamzons and Silva are among the Duterte regime’s moves to undermine and sabotage the peace process and its negotiations with the NDFP.

“The refusal of Duterte to move towards discussions on the substantial agenda on much needed social and economic reforms and his pronouncements and issuances declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as terrorist organizations, in addition to its anti-people counter-insurgency and all-out war, among others, have all shown the insincerity of this murderous regime in pursuing just and lasting peace,” she said.

Palabay said Jasig is binding and effective on both parties until terminated by either party through an official notice of termination to the other Party. It shall be considered terminated 30 days after the receipt of the notice by the other party.
“The Jasig also categorically provides that the immunities shall remain in effect even after it has been terminated,” Palabay stated.

Meanwhile, lawyer Edre Olalia, NDFP Negotiating Panel Legal Consultant and co-counsel for Tiamzons said they maintain that the peace negotiations have not yet been terminated properly.

“A unilateral declaration by one side without the proper written notice duly received by the other, no matter how categorical yet at the same unjustified, does not make the grade and does not bind the latter,” said Olalia in a statement.

He added, “And this is not fussing over mere procedure but is warranted by fairness, practicality and principle. No one in his right mind will participate in any peace negotiations if the protections and guarantees of safety and immunity for such involvement can easily be brushed aside, even under the colorable legal theatre of one party.” (http://bulatlat.com)

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