MANILA, Philippines – The leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and human rights group Karapatan are urging the Aquino administration to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF).
In a candle lighting ceremony held in Plaza Miranda in Manila on Thursday, April 3, the groups also called on the government to release all political prisoners and NDF peace consultants, including Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma Austria, who were arrested last month.
“If the Aquino government is really sincere in attaining genuine, just and lasting peace, it must holistically pave the way to fulfill all the requisites in setting up the peace negotiating table with the NDFP. Such requirements include the release of peace consultants and political prisoners,” Karapatan chairperson Maria Lourdes Villarias said.
The militants expressed alarm over the series of arrests of high-profile personalities of the NDF including Andrea Rosal, daughter of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesperson Ka Roger; and the Tiamzons.
Aside from the 4 personalities, the group said that the government is still holding 427 other political prisoners, 14 of whom are NDF consultants.
“To show sincerity in the peace process, President Aquino, as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, must junk all the trump-up charges and fabricated cases being filed against leaders and members of various revolutionary and progressive organizations including multiple murder cases against former Bayan Muna partylist Rep Satur Ocampo and NDFP consultants, Rafael Baylosis, Randall Echanis and Vicente Ladlad,” Villarias added.
Peace negotiations between the government and the NDF have been on and off for the past 27 years. It hit an impasse after the NDF demanded a new list of its comrades covered under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) after the original list, contained in a diskette and kept by a third party, had been corrupted and cannot be decrypted.
The government had said that it is willing to return to the negotiating table but under a new framework it is proposing.
Alexander Padilla, government panel chair, had said that during the government’s 27 years of negotiations with the NDF, the two sides agreed on only one issue – human rights – with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and Internal Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL). – Rappler.com
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