“This latest flagrant violation of the Jasig by the Aquino regime, in addition to so many other gross violations of the Jasig, most seriously prejudices the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.” – Luis Jalandoni, NDFP panel chairman
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said the arrest of alleged top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).
In a statement sent through email. The NDFP said Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria are both NDFP consultants “fulfilling highly significant tasks” in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines(GRP/GPH) and the NDFP.
According to reports, Tiamzon and Austria and five others were arrested by joint state security forces yesterday in Carcar, Cebu. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said arrest warrants for frustrated murder and murder were served to the couple.
The NDFP said both are holders of the Document of Identification and are therefore covered by Jasig.
Signed by the GPH (then GRP) and the NDFP, Jasig provides all duly accredited persons guaranteed free and unhindered passage in all areas in the Philippines, and in travelling to and from the Philippines in connection with the performance of their duties in the negotiations. Duly accredited persons are those in possession of documents of identification (DI) or safe conduct passes. Immunity guarantees for all accredited persons include immunity 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 NDFP said Austria is holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND978226 under her real name and Tiamzon is the holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND 978227 under the assumed name “Crising Banaag.”
Both are holders of 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.”
Despite the long impasse, there has been no formal termination of the GPH-NDFP peace talks.
The NDFP said Tiamzon and Austria should be immediately and unconditionally released.
“This latest flagrant violation of the Jasig by the Aquino regime, in addition to so many other gross violations of the Jasig, most seriously prejudices the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations,” Luis Jalandoni, NDFP panel chairman, said.
Besides the couple, 13 other NDFP consultants covered by Jasig are detained in different detention facilities. Six NDFP consultants have so far been arrested and detained under the Aquino administration.
In a statement posted on its website, the CPP said both Tiamzon and Austria, at the time of their arrest, were closely monitoring the efforts of the New People’s Army (NPA) in carrying out rehabilitation work in devastated regions. The CPP said both were receiving reports from NPA commands about efforts to mobilize Red fighters to help build communal farms, till the land and mobilize and distribute seeds and other agricultural resources from the NDFP.
The CPP further condemned the filing of “trumped-up criminal charges” against Tiamzon and Austria. “The CPP condemns the media campaign being conducted by Malacañang and the AFP to demonize Tiamzon and Austria by depicting them as common criminals,” the statement said.
The CPP said the arrest of Tiamzon and Austria “will not stop the main trend of advance of the people’s war.” “While the wisdom and guidance of individual leaders is important, the advance of the revolutionary struggle depends more on the collective wisdom, determination and organization of the revolutionary masses,” it said.