Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Communist rebels to draw up new list of people ‘immune’ from arrest during peace talks

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 12): Communist rebels to draw up new list of people ‘immune’ from arrest during peace talks

A new list would be drawn out to identify people who would be granted immunity from arrest during the peace negotiation between the government and communist rebels, an official of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said.

In an online interview on Sunday, Luis Jalandoni, NDFP chief peace negotiator, said the list related to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) would be “reconstituted” in line with preparations for the return of communist rebels to the negotiating table under the administration of President Duterte.

The JASIG was signed in 1995 by the government and communist representatives.

A list of 75 rebel consultants, including their photographs, was deposited by the Philippine government, NDFP and Church representatives in a vault in The Netherlands in 1996 so this could serve as basis for identifying consultants who would be granted immunity from arrest.

But in 2011, the parties discovered that the two diskettes containing the list had been damaged and its contents could no longer be retrieved.

Under the JASIG, NDFP peace panel members, consultants and staff who are part of the negotiating team are granted immunity from arrest and detention. The document provides safety guarantees “to create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and free movement during the peace negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the [talks].”

The irretrievable data made it impossible for the government to verify claims by NDFP that some of their arrested leaders were included in the JASIG list.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights advocate Karapatan, said her group had documented 519 political prisoners detained in different jails across the country.

Of this number, 21 are NDFP consultants and JASIG-protected persons, according to Karapatan.

The formal peace negotiation is set to resume in Oslo, Norway, this month.

The NDFP is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed group, the New People’s Army, and as such, it is representing the CPP NPA in the talks.  


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