SolGen seeks bail cancellation, rearrest of NDF consultants as CPP warns vs breaching agreements

July 20, 2017 - 4:16 PM
Solicitor General Jose Calida, seen in file photo at a press conference in Davao City, with presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella and AFP spokesman Brig Gen Restituto Padilla. (PCOO photo)

MANILA – Solicitor General Jose C. Calida, on Thursday instructed lawyers in his office to ask the court to cancel the bail bonds of the National Democratic Front consultants, as President Duterte indicated he was no longer keen on pursuing formal negotiations – even backchannel talks – amid continuing attacks by government forces.

The move quickly drew an angry reaction from the Communist Party of the Philippines, whose Information Bureau described it as a violation of two agreements earlier forged with the Philippine government, JASIG and CARHRIHL. “It is a strongman’s act of bad faith aimed at bullying the NDFP to bow to his terms of surrender,” the CPP Information Bureau statement said.

According to OSG Spokesperson Atty. Erik Dy, the Solicitor General instructed the handling solicitors to ask the courts to cancel the bail bonds of the NDF consultants, order their arrests, and recommit them to their detention facilities.

“The conditional release granted them by the courts are for the sole purpose of the formal peace negotiations. The conditions are based on the Supreme Court Resolution dated 2 August 2016, and not based on JASIG.” Dy said, pertaining to an SC Resolution involving NDF leaders Saturnino Ocampo, Randall Echanis and Vicente Ladlad.

“The conditions provide that should the formal peace negotiations cease or fail, their bond shall be deemed automatically cancelled,” Dy added.

In its statement, the CPP Information Bureau said: “By cancelling the scheduled talks with the NDFP, GRP President Duterte is showing he no longer has need for peace negotiations with the NDFP amid waging a triple war of death and destruction under its US-supported martial law rule.”

The CPP-IB said “Duterte continues to lay the foundations for authoritarian rule under US imperialist tutelage. He is completely intoxicated with martial law powers. He is mistaken in thinking he can suppress the Filipino and Bangsamoro people and their revolutionary forces in their resistance to the oppression and exploitation by the ruling oligarchy and their US imperialist masters.”

Effectively, Duterte is merely “stoking the broad masses of the Filipino and Bangsamoro people to unite, wage mass struggles and and armed revolutionary resistance.”

The JASIG that the Left accuses the government of violating stands for Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, described as “an identification system that gives protection to security consultants of both parties.” JASIG ensures the continuity of the peace talks by assuring both parties that their negotiators and consultants can move and speak freely in relation to their role in the peace process, explained former Kabataan party-list Rep. Mong Palatino.

On the other hand, CARHRIHL is the landmark Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law signed in 1998, which recognized the need to apply human rights principles when responding to the armed conflict.

‘Flimsy excuses to scuttle talks’

Meanwhile, NDFP peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili expressed dismay that the government “seems so eager to terminate the peace negotiations even using the flimsiest of all excuses to cancel the backchannel talks.”

Agcaoili said, “in the first place, there is no ceasefire in place, whether unilateral or bilateral, between the GRP and the NDFP; the NDFP did not cancel the talks despite the killing of six NPA fighters and two civilians in Compostela Valley last 12 July and the massacre of a family in the same province a few days later; and there was no ambush nor encounter that happened in that PSG incident which allegedly wounded four soldiers.”

He said the order by the Solicitor General to rearrest the consultants is “in blatant violation of the JASIG,” adding that “if the GRP is so determined to terminate the negotiations, it can avail of the pertinent provision in the JASIG to do so, and not engage in subterfuge and threats in an attempt to force the NDFP to capitulate to its demands.”

Atty.Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) had this reaction:

“Walking away yet again from a long, hard but needed journey for a just, principled and enduring peace because you cannot unilaterally and one-sidedly impose what you want is an infantile cop out. There is a just war out there which is the raison d’ etre for talking peace to address and solve its roots. This is a reality you cannot throw a tantrum like a whining bully or dictate away like an infallible king. Bring about real change for a change.”

Olalia noted a “sense of disproportion and dishonesty” by the Duterte administration, a tendencey to magnify periodic attacks of one side and denying gross, wholesale and unmitigated incessant attacks especially against the masses by the other. ”

Updated account of Arakan shooting

Meanwhile, the CPP Information Bureau gave an updated account of the July 19 Arakan incident in Cotabato that left five members of the Presidential Security Group and a militiaman wounded in what the military described as an ambush at an NPA checkpoint, where rebels wore fatigues and bore arms similar to those used by Army soldiers.

Here’s the CPP’s updated account, based on reports submitted by the NPA-Regional Operations Command in Southern Mindanao:

At 6 a.m. of July 19, Red fighters of the First Pulang Bagani Company manning an NPA checkpoint at Barangay Katipunan, Arakan town along the Davao-Cotabato-Bukidnon national highway flagged down a white unmarked and heavily-tinted armored vehicle. It later was identified as belonging to the Presidential Security Group.

The NPA checkpoint was put up to interdict military and police vehicles carrying weapons plying the route as part of the NPA campaign in response to the CPP’s call to fight martial law in Mindanao.

The vehicle’s driver rolled down his window and introduced himself as an Army man. Upon realizing the checkpoint was not being manned by AFP soldiers, he immediately drew his gun and stepped on the gas while rolling up his window. NPA fighters fired at the vehicle, hitting its tires and disabling it.

At that point, a second vehicle of the two-vehicle convoy came racing through firing their weapons at the NPA fighters. It succeeded in passing through the checkpoint leaving the white armored van but was fired upon by a nearby unit of the NPA before it could speed away.

The NPA approached the disabled armored vehicle and ordered its passengers to alight. The passengers declared they are not going to resist but insisted they could not come out of the autolocked vehicle.

Ordered to withdraw, the NPA unit left the site before 7 a.m.

Earlier, the NPA arrested CIDG-Bukidnon Agent Rogelio Magno who is based in Valencia City. He remains in custody for investigation.