By BicolToday.com staff
07February2017 (BicolToday.com) – President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the suspension of Peace Talks between GRP and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). He likewise ordered the arrest of all of its consultants, tagging them as terrorists.
However, NDFP awaits formal notice from GRP panel on the termination of peace negotiations as mandated in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which defines the mode of termination.
Duterte has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest all NDFP consultants who were earlier released once they return home to the country from Oslo, Norway. He said that the NDF consultants are facing various criminal charges in various courts in the country.
About 22 known ranking leaders of the NDFP in the country were released from prison to join the peace negotiation with the government panel and the NDF in Oslo, Norway mid-August last year.
Duterte said he would order the Bureau of Immigration to cancel the passports of the released NDF consultants, if they would not come home.
“Well, if they want an asylum, they could apply an asylum to where they are now because we would definitely arrest and put them behind bars to answer charges against them once they arrived in the country,” Duterte said.
According to Duterte, he had seriously considered ending the 50-year insurgency war which prompted him release the NDF prisoners to serve as consultant to the peace panel. “Considering the criminal cases filed against the released NDF consultants, the courts lamented that we asked for consideration in the name of peace,” he said.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella stated on February 5 that “this is deeply disappointing as Final and Lasting Peace has been one of the President’s deepest aspirations for the nation.”
“If there is anyone who passionately dreams of — and works on — bringing about sustainable peace in the land, it is President Duterte. His judgment calls are directed towards this goal,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said.
Dureza added that “At the moment, he has clearly spoken on the directions we all in government should take. Let’s take guidance from these recent declarations.”
For factual clarifications according to NDFP, all 17 NDFP consultants released from detention last August 2016 are in the Philippines and are not in hiding. Those who took part in the third round of formal talks in Rome, Italy from 19 to 25 January 2017 have returned to the country as of 31 January. They are all protected from rearrest in accordance with the JASIG.
These consultants have been put under the effective jurisdiction of GRP courts because they were released only on bail and only for a six-month period according to NDFP Negotiating Panel chair Fidel Agcaoili.
“They have been required to secure court permission every time they went abroad to participate in the last three rounds of talks,” Agcaoili said. “Their bail renewal is due this month and, as reflected in the Rome Joint Statement of 25 January 2017, both their lawyers and the GRP have agreed to cooperate in this regard.”
The Royal Norwegian Government in its capacity as Third Party Facilitator in the peace talks has been providing for the travel expenses and accommodation of the NDFP delegation in formal and informal peace talks since the beginning. [BicolToday.com]