From the Philippine Star (Dec 13): NDF consultant gets 40 years for illegal possession of firearms
A consultant of the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) was sentenced last Wednesday to 40 years in prison by a Muntinlupa City regional trial court for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
The human rights group Karapatan said the conviction of NDF consultant Eduardo Sarmiento by Judge Myra Bayot Quiambo of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 203 was in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) that was signed in 1995 by representatives of the Philippine government and the NDF.
According to Karapatan, as a consultant to the peace process Sarmiento is covered by JASIG, having been involved in the peace negotiations between the government and the NDF since 1986, representing the Eastern Visayas region.
“Sarmiento should have been released as early as 2011, had the Aquino government fulfilled its commitment, contained in the February 2011 Oslo GPH-NDFP Joint Statement, to release ‘most, if not all, political prisoners.’ In fact, Sarmiento should have not been arrested at all,” said Karapatan in a statement.
Karapatan said that Sarmiento’s arrest on Feb. 24, 2009 was faulty because it was warrantless and the evidence found on him was allegedly planted.
The group said Sarmiento’s arresting officers claimed they had two warrants of arrest for arson and for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder issued by the Catbalogan Regional Trial Court Branch 29 and of the Municipal Trial Court of Paranas, Samar, respectively.
Sarmiento was later charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives for allegedly carrying a brown bag with one fragmentation grenade.
Karapatan said Sarmiento had a P2-million bounty on his head which was supposedly awarded to an informant. At the time of his arrest, Sarmiento was in Manila for consultations. He was arrested near a mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa by joint elements of the army intelligence and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
The activity is part of full swing public engagements on the basic law being crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). The Commission is in tie-up with civil society organization based on a memorandum of understanding between the BTC and the CSO’s. This activity at the BLMI will be followed by a series of consultations in Moro communities of as far as the island provinces and western Mindanao provinces.
About 100 participants from Maguindanao comprising information officers and political committee officers, with 25 participants each from the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), women and youth sector attended the program.
On November 30, 2013 the BTC and CR signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the BTC office between BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal and Kristian Herbolzeimer of Conciliation Resources. This agreement aims to promote public participation on the peace process also known as 5P’s.
CR have eight (8) partners conducting public engagements on the ground in order to let the public know what the BTC is doing and the feedbacks that it gathers from the public in connection with the drafting of the BBL. Once the BTC completes the crafting of the basic law it will be submitted to President Benigno C. Aquino III for certification as “urgent” bill and transmits the same to congress so that both chambers have ample time to enact it into law.
The consultation started with a recital of verses from the Holy Qur’an followed by opening remarks. Atty. Haron Meling, Chief Executive Assistant of BTC Chair Iqbal lectured on the ministerial form of government and mentioned some activities of the BTC in recent weeks.
“Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) provides that the government of the Bangsamoro shall have a ministerial form. The parties agree to entrench an electoral system suitable to a ministerial form of government. The electoral system shall allow democratic participation, ensure accountability of public officers primarily to their constituents and encourage formation of genuinely principled political parties.”
There are four thematic issues or concerns that have been discussed or presented during the workshop such as; governance, territory, security, and Shari’ah Law.
Currently, the BLMI is intensifying its efforts by conducting capacity building activities and promoting peoples’ awareness on the peace process and other concerns. The participants were also challenged to encourage the Bangsamoro people in state building endeavors as stipulated in the FAB.