“With his arrest reminiscent of Marcos’ crackdown, this demonstrates how no person now is safe from the vicious and vindictive Duterte administration. As always, brute force and circumvention of the law are hallmarks of abuse of power and tyranny.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Progressive groups denounced the arrest of 68-year-old National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael Baylosis and his companion Roque Guillermo Jr. on Jan. 31.
Baylosis was the first NDFP consultant arrested after President Duterte ordered verbally ordered the termination of peace talks in December. He is a member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Group on Political and Constitutional Reforms.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay assailed the arrest, saying “the government has again focused its efforts in the persecution of peace consultants instead of working to resolve the roots of the armed conflict by way of pursuing the peace talks.”
NDFP senior adviser and former chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni maintained that the arrest “is a flagrant violation” of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).
Read: Arrest of peace consultant ‘violation of past agreement,’ NDFP says
Baylosis’s counsel, Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center, said the two were arrested without a warrant. She said Baylosis and Guillermo were walking along Katipunan Avenue when armed men “forcibly and violently” took Baylosis inside a white van.
The armed men also did not read him his constitutional rights, or present any charge sheet, said Pastores contrary to the Philippine National Police press release.
Baylosis was also not allowed access to family, lawyers, or even to a phone, until this morning.
“In a worn-out attempt to legitimize his arrest, he and Guillermo now face fabricated, trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms,” said Pastores.
“With his arrest reminiscent of Marcos’ crackdown, this demonstrates how no person now is safe from the vicious and vindictive Duterte administration. As always, brute force and circumvention of the law are hallmarks of abuse of power and tyranny,” Pastores added.
Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno also hit the government for the arrest of Baylosis, also former KMU’s vice president for political and external Affairs and is currently a senior member of the labor center’s advisory council.
Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general said in a statement, “Duterte has no interest in peace. He is a fascist warmonger that cowardly schemes to sabotage the forging socio-economic reforms to address the roots of insurgency to push his US-dictated anti-people and anti-worker policies that would worsen the hunger and poverty in the country,” said Adonis said Baylosis was KMU’s. He said Baylosis “plays a crucial role in raising Filipino workers’ agenda in the peace talks especially on forging agreements on socio-economic reforms.”
He said the arrest of Baylosis is part of the Duterte government’s crackdown against critics. “He has resorted to tagging unionists and labor rights advocates as terrorists to discredit their legitimate demands for living wages and regular jobs and to justify his brutal attacks against workers’ and people’s rights,” Adonis said.
Just last Monday, Jan. 29, Joselyn Martinez, Alliance of Concerned Teachers-National Capital Region Union president was being arrested by men in civilian clothes inside the school where she is teaching. She was able to hold her ground as the name in the arrest warrant presented to her had a different name which is Joy Ramirez.
Ferdinand Gaite,president of government employees’ confederation Courage, was also harassed by a suspected member of the Department of National Defense.
Resume peace talks
The groups also called for the resumption of peace talks between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) which they said had progressed since it resumed in 2016.
In November last year, Duterte has cancelled the peace talks with the NDFP. This was after bilateral teams of the NDFP and GRP reciprocal working committees on social and economic reforms have “initialed draft documents reflecting substantial agreements on agrarian reform and rural development, and on national industrialization and economic development.” https://www.bulatlat.com/2017/11/23/peace-advocates-lament-cancellation-peace-talks/
In a statement, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said the peace talks was an opportunity for the government “to completely embrace reforms that will benefit the people.”
“The subject of the peace talks concerned genuine social reforms — things that the past administrations, now the Duterte administration included, neglected and ignored. Instead of taking it seriously, the Duterte administration treated it like a theatrical act. That only shows what kind of leader we have today — a fascist, tyrannical, corrupt, murderous, and deceitful oligarch,” Elago said.