“Instead of respecting the agreements it signed with the NDFP, this government is instead preoccupied in emasculating each one.” – Roy Erecre, NDFP consultant, political prisoner
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – A consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace talks condemned the government for arresting him and allegedly denying him the right to counsel.
Roy Erecre, in a statement from prison and sent to the media through email, said his arrest is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).
Erecre was arrested by a composite team of intelligence operatives May 7 in Bajada village, Davao City. Earlier, the NDFP confirmed Erecre is one of its consultants covered by Jasig with document of identification number ND978243 under the assumed name Vide Alguna. Signed by both parties in 1995, Jasig provides those involved in the peace talks immunity from surveillance, arrest, threat and other forms of attack.
“Immediately after abducting me in my hometown, this government has kept me incommunicado by transferring me from one detention cell to another across the seas until finally jailing me in Bohol…” Erecre said in a statement dated May 14. “In the crucial time following my abduction, government agents denied me the right to counsel, as they interrogated and threatened and manhandled me. While locked up from public scrutiny, I was accused of trumped-up charges and misrepresented as a guilty felon through trial by publicity.”
In a report, Army Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said Erecre was arrested by virtue of several non-bailable warrants from Cebu and Bohol provinces since the 1990s. Caber said Erecre is allegedly responsible for the ambush that killed two army lieutenants in Bohol in separate incidents in March 2000 and March 2003.
Caber further claimed that Erecre and his companion were apparently on a holiday vacation and had been to different beach resorts and hotels in the Davao region.
“I didn’t know then that having medical treatment with one’s family physician translates to ‘island-resort hopping’ of sorts in the military mind, and that either constitutes a crime,” Erecre said. He said he and his companion were on their way for a follow-up check up for his diabetes when they were arrested.
Erecre added that during the arrest, he was robbed of his personal belongings and his phone, journal, and flash drives have not been returned.
In a report, Caber confirmed the arresting team confiscated from Erecre P352,000 cash, Nokia cellular phone, 16GB flash drive USB, and assorted documents and receipts.
“Instead of respecting the agreements it signed with the NDFP, this government is instead preoccupied in emasculating each one,” Erecre said, citing in particular the CARHRIHL and Jasig.
He noted that there are now 169 victims of extra-judicial killings nationwide since the beginning of Aquino’s presidency, as documented by Karapatan. He added there has also been continued crackdown on those involved in the NDFP’s peace panel, citing the “bare-faced attack on his fellow NDFP peace consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.”
“This travesty of justice and its own due processes, however, serves only as this government’s own undoing. It only exposes the hopeless rottenness of the system this government represents and protects,” Erecre said.
“This government may have succeeded in imprisoning me for now, but it can never be triumphant in containing the surging people’s wrath,” the NDFP consultant for the Visayas said.
In a separate statement, the CPP called for the immediate release of Erecre.
“The arrest of Mr. Erecre is another act of gross violation of the Jasig, which provides safety and immunity guarantees to peace talks personnel… The Aquino regime has dealt another blow to the peace negotiations,” the CPP said.