The Department of Justice issued on Wednesday a Lookout Bulletin Order (LBO) against 20 political consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), after President Rodrigo Duterte called off peace talks with communist rebels and ordered the arrest of their negotiators.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd ordered the Bureau of Immigration to check the travel information of the NDFP consultants, as they might leave the Philippines and fail to face standing criminal charges filed against them.
An LBO is issued by the DOJ against persons to ensure that their movements are monitored, including the itineraries of their flights and travel schedules. Personalities covered by an LBO are still allowed to travel but with the permission of the DOJ.
The DOJ chief said the NDFP consultants, who joined three rounds of talks in Oslo, Norway and Rome, Italy beginning August 2016, should go back to the country and return to detention.
“Once they turn themselves in or arrested, they will be returned to their detention,” Aguirre said when sought for comment on the issue, adding that “security forces can arrest them.”
Among those covered by the LBO are Tirso Alcantara, Ma. Concepcion Bocala, Pedro Codaste, Renante Gamara, Alan Jazmines, Ernesto Lorenzo, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Alfredo Mapano, Ruben Saluta, Adelberto Silva, Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Tiamzon, Ariel Arbitrario, Renato Balers Sr., Kennedy Bangibang, Jaime Soledad, Rafael Baylosis, Alex Birondo, Winona Birondo and Porfero Tuna.
Police and the military on Monday arrested Arbitrario and two companions, who were nabbed in a checkpoint at the President’s home city of Davao on Monday.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) was also furnished a copy of the LBO. It directs the BI to coordinate with the PNP “to obtain additional information about the subject of this [LBO], in order to facilitate its enforcement.”
An LBO is considered a “baby Hold Departure Order” as it is not issued by the regular courts. A hold-departure order issued by the courts bars a person from leaving the country.
The government on Tuesday terminated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) that provides immunity from arrest, surveillance and intimidation to NDF consultants and members involved in the peace negotiations.
The termination of the agreement allowed the military to arrest communist leaders, including those who gained their temporary freedom by posting bail.
The government also on Tuesday declared all-out war against the New People’s Army. This time, the military will crush the rebel group, a military official said on Wednesday.
“We are confident that this time, we will prevail and defeat them. We now have a clear blueprint on how to approach the insurgency problem,”said Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office.
He said the military sees victory in the fight against insurgency with the people in the community swinging their support to the AFP.
“The combat operations that we have launched are brought about by the swinging of support of our people to our armed forces, to our government, who have given us vital intelligence information that leads to either identification and assault of military targets,” he added.
The AFP official said the military is looking at the tactical defeat of the NPA.
“We will degrade their capability to fight our government not just by cutting down their numbers, but by going after their support system,” Arevalo explained.
He said the government will use all its available resources to defeat the NPA especially now that the AFP is better equipped.
“We are now in a better position to fight the enemies of the state. We will be employing elite units from the Army, Navy , Marines and the Philippine Air Force in the conduct of a surgical, focused, deliberate, intelligence driven combat, intelligence and civil military operations,” he said.
with FERNAN MARASIGAN