“Since the peace negotiations and the resumption of the talks are both in the national agenda of the Senate President and the House Speaker, it is also politically and legally correct for the two top leaders of Congress to help in the speedy release of the KMP leader, who was recognized by the Royal Norwegian Government and the Philippine government as resource person of the NDF in the formulation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, the second main item in the peace talks,” Hicap said.
The militant group said aside from the Senate President and the House Speaker, known peace advocates in Congress like Sens. Ma. Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal, Loren Legarda, Francis Pangilinan and Francis Escudero could also help in pursuing the immediate release of the KMP leader.
“The Senate and the House of Representatives are now in session. We hope they could devote a portion of their time writing separate or joint resolutions ordering Malacañang, the National Security Council and the AFP to release Echanis from his detention cell at the Leyte Provincial Jail in Palo, Leyte,” Pamalakaya said.
Pamalakaya, a third party resource group in the peace talks that provides inputs for both the government and the NDFP regarding the Comprehensive Agreement on Social Economic Reforms said the resumption of the peace talks is necessary so that the government and the NDFP could start discussing the socio-economic reforms, including the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or House Bill 3059 filed by militant party list lawmakers in Congress led by Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran.
Pamalakaya said there are 17 written bilateral agreements in relation to the peace talks signed by both parties. These are the Joint Hague Declaration (Sept.1, 1992), the Breukelen Joint Statement (June 14, 1994), the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Feb.24, 1995), the Joint Agreement on the Ground Rules of the Formal Meetings Between the GRP and the NDPF panels (Feb.26, 1995), the Agreement on Additional Implementing Rules Pertaining to the Documents of Identification (June 26, 1996), the Supplemental Agreement to the Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees (March 18, 1997).
The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRIHL (March 16, 1998), the agreement on the Additional Implementing Rules on JASIG pertaining to the Security of Personnel and Consultations in Furtherance of Peace Negotiations (March 16, 1998), the Joint Agreement in Support of Socioeconomic Projects of Private Development Organizations and Institutes (March 16, 1998) and the Joint Statement on the Resumption of Peace Talks (March 9, 2001).
The other agreements were the Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees of the GRP and the NDFP Negotiating Panels (June 26, 1995), the Oslo Joint Communiqué (April 30, 2001), the Oslo Joint Statement (Feb.14, 2004), the Second Oslo Joint Statement (April 3, 2004) and the Partial Supplemental Guidelines for the Joint Monitoring Committee (June 25, 2004).
“If Malacañang is really heeding the Church’s call for peace it should honor all these bilateral agreements and quit from imposing preconditions that would keep the NDFP away from the negotiating table,” Pamalakaya said.
“New type of torture”
At the time he was arrested and transferred to Leyte Provincial Jail in Palo, Echanis was subjected to “a new type of torture,” said his lawyer Jobert Pahilga. “The KMP leader was flown from Bago City in Negros Occidental to Mactan International Airport and from the Cebu airport to Hilongos, with four choppers filled with policemen guarding him, as if he was a notorious criminal offered as a trophy to the Filipino public,” Pahilga said.
Pahilga said Echanis was transferred from Hilongos municipal jail to Palo before midnight of Tuesday and arrived at the provincial jail in Palo at 3:00 a.m. of Jan. 30. The lawyer said the military committed a new type of torture by subjecting his client and his client’s family, legal counsel, friends and colleagues to deceit and intense pressure tantamount to mental and psychological torture, which is worse than physical torture.
“The political case of Echanis represents the Filipino peasant struggle and the Filipino people’s fight against the immoral, criminal and bankrupt regime of President Gloria Arroyo,” Pahilga said. “He is being politically persecuted for his advocacy for the peasant rights to land and for exposing and opposing to the Filipino people the horrible and unpardonable crimes of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and the pro-Arroyo chain of command in the military and police establishments.”
“The arrest of my client was done in the name of Mrs. Arroyo’s political survival and satisfies the pro-Arroyo chain of command in the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ penchant for blood and bloodbath. In more concrete terms, the arrest of Echanis was meant to glorify and justify the illegal and immoral stay of Mrs. Arroyo’s most beloved military general AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and to give weight to her general’s bloody campaign over the next three months against the Left and other critics of her administration.”