Despite the government’s unilateral public declaration, as well as written proclamation, terminating the peace talks with the communist rebels, there is a process that should first be followed, legal experts point out.
The GRP [government of the Philippines], “must still send a written notice to the appropriate entity of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Upon receipt and corresponding acknowledgment that it is in order, the termination shall technically be deemed effective only after 30 days from such receipt.”
This was the opinion proffered by Atty. Edre Olalia, Secretary General, National Union of Peoples’Lawyers (NUPL)-Philippines and legal consultant of the NDFP.
Written notice of termination
The NDFP Negotiating Panel has declare: “We await receipt of the written notice of termination of the peace negotiations by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) as a consequence of the reported signing of Proclamation No. 360 by President Duterte declaring such termination.
“As stipulated in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations shall be deemed terminated 30 days after receipt of the written notice of termination to be given by one party to the other. We expect the GRP to comply with this provision.”
“Meanwhile, as far as the 19 NDFP political consultants and staff who were released on bail in August 2016 are concerned, the GRP court orders generally say that their bail is effective for the duration of the peace negotiations.
“If the talks are terminated in accordance with the agreed protocol i.e. written notice to the other party from and to the authorized entities, their bail in accordance with this particular mode and context of release may be canceled.”
But this cancellation is not automatic, Olalia explained. “Or unilateral or upon the mere say so of anybody or even by a public declaration. There is a process to be faithfully observed.
“The GRP through its authorized lawyers are duty bound to file the necessary motions in court, the NDFP consultants through their lawyers are given a real opportunity to comment or oppose through a hearing, and the proper court must weigh the facts, grounds and arguments of both sides before deciding on the GRP motion.”
Olalia also pointed out that it is “always and ultimately both a political and personal decision what courses of action the NDFP consultants would make under the present circumstances and atmosphere and taking into full account their own or others’ similar experience … as they had been arrested illegally, even tortured, compelled to confront improper or trumped-up charges, presented manufactured evidence and pejurious professional or coached witnesses, endured subhuman prison conditions, and basically penalized for performing their multifaceted tasks not only as peace consultants but as arduous advocates for fundamental reforms.”
Worse dictator than Marcos
For its part, the National Democratic Front expects “the written notice to be sent to us immediately now that Proclamation No. 360 has been published, and that in accordance with the JASIG, all immunities shall remain in full force and effect even after the termination of the peace negotiations.”
Fidel V. Agcaoili, NDFP Panel Chairperson, said: “If President Duterte is determined to turn the entire country into a wasteland similar to Marawi, that is his own lookout. He will meet the fierce resistance of the people to his fascist rule and go down in history as a worse dictator than Marcos.”
Click and watch a related video report below, from News5’s Patricia Mangune: