No-holds-barred press conference for Ka Bart; Release imprisoned NDFP consultants and other JASIG-protected personnel!
June 16, 2011

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“Such claims are being verified by (the government) peace panel.” This is Defense Undersecretary and Spokesperson Eduardo Batac’s response referring to the National Democratic Front of the Philippine’s (NDFP) demand to release Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara and other NDFP consultants and personnel covered by Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). Under the JASIG, NDFP negotiators, consultants, staff and other personnel assume safety and immunity from arrest.

Now almost five months after the Government of the Philippines (GPH) committed “to work for the expeditious release of detained NDFP consultants and other JASIG-protected persons in compliance with JASIG” signed by both parties on January 18, 2001 in Oslo, Norway and "to undertake steps for the release of prisoners and detainees in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) declared during the GPH-NDFP formal talks on February 15-21, 2011, NDFP Consultants and other JASIG-protected personnel are still held prisoners by GPH.

Notwithstanding the NDFP’s legitimate political demands, the Department of National Defense (DND) rejected to release imprisoned NDFP consultants and personnel. It resorts to what the people have long known to be its notorious (passe?) and convenient way of maneuvering each and every time it illegally arrests leaders and members of progressive organizations and revolutionary party — it accuses them with tailor-made criminal charges. Ka Bart has pending 23 criminal cases. Eduardo Serrano is denied deliverance due to trumped up charges of multiple frustrated murder and attempted murder. On the other hand, Alan Jazmines threatened with forcible transfer by the military from Camp Crame to the Bicutan jail, faces rebellion and murder charges.

Definitely, NDF-Southern Tagalog Region doesn’t agree. By using tailored criminal charges as convenient leverage to detain NDFP consultants and personnel guaranteed by JASIG, GPH’s motives in engaging in formal talks are suspect. DND should therefore focus on honoring one’s own commitments and stop leading the people and the revolutionary movement in double-talks.

On June 8, 2011, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) purports that Tirso Alcantara is, declared by NDFP Panel Chairman Luis Jalandoni as “shackled to bed,” provided ‘comfortable living quarters and regular health check". In a taped interview reportedly given by Ka Bart at Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio on June 6, 2011 he was quoted as saying that he “is not shackled to bed and is treated well by his soldier-guards.” “Good treatment” extends to his request being granted to give him ’fish instead of chicken’ as he supposedly complained about the food provided him too salty.

But the people should verify such claims. Prisons are no vacation houses. Not for people that work for justice and peace and whom GPH arbitrarily brands as “enemies of the state” and “terrorists”.

NDF-Southern Tagalog calls for a no-holds-barred press conference for Ka Bart. The AFP should prove that Ka Bart was not under duress when he reportedly gave that taped interview. Nonetheless, continuous detention of Ka Bart and other NDFP consultants and personnel up to the present time is in violation of the Joint Communique of January 18, 2011 signed by both GPH and NDFP principals. This violation cannot be concealed no matter how AFP allegedly “treat well” imprisoned NDFP consultants and personnel which in practice it languishes in captivity.

GPH unyielding decision not to release NDFP consultants and personnel guaranteed by JASIG is a deliberate act of sabotage to peace talks. This is also a clear indication that Aquino administration is toothless over the military authorities. Or this is GPH’s two-faced guise inexorably emerging from its feeble, fallible inherence — engaging in counter-revolutionary undertakings, luring the revolutionary movement into nonsensical talks while at the same time carrying on with what it imagines the CPP-NPA-NDFP “becoming significantly irrelevant” through its counter-revolutionary Internal Peace and Security Plan-Bayanihan.