Government looking into the release of ‘political prisoners’-A A +A
Thursday, February 21, 2013
ALLEGED political consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will only be released in line with legal processes, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said late Wednesday.
“On the matter of the release of political prisoners, OPAPP is conducting an internal review process in accordance with our laws and court processes as this remains a priority,” said OPAPP spokesperson Polly Cunanan.
The NDF has been batting for the release of its 13 detained consultants allegedly covered by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) before sitting down again for the peace talks that have been stalled since February 2011.
JASIG, which Cunanan referred as the biggest challenge in the negotiations, is among the agreements signed by both parties in February 1995 to allow those involved in peace talks to freely discuss and move without any threat of being arrested.
On Wednesday, leftist groups such as Karapatan, Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Desaparecidos held a protest rally outside the OPAPP headquarters in Pasig City to press for the release of consultants of NDFP, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
Cunanan said they took note of the groups’ grievances, got their contact numbers and assured them that their requests will be processed.
OPAPP said panels of both sides flew to The Netherlands in July 2011 to check if the NDFP’s detained consultants were indeed JASIG-covered.
During the meeting, they agreed to open a sealed envelope stored in a safety deposit box kept by the parties eight years ago in a bank. The envelope was supposed to hold the photos and aliases of the NDFP's consultants, according to OPAPP.
“But when they opened the envelope, it did not contain actual photos of alleged NDF consultants using their aliases, but only diskettes allegedly containing photos, and these could not be decrypted,” said Cunanan.
This rendered JASIG inoperative since the NDFP failed to comply with the terms of the verification mechanism.
Meanwhile, Cunanan said talks will resume early this year as agreed by parties in a meeting in The Netherlands last December. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)