The government on Tuesday withdrew the immunity guarantees given to leaders and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) participating in the peace negotiations, thereby giving the military freedom to rearrest communist leaders.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said the government terminated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) following President Rodrigo Duterte’s cancellation of the peace talks with the rebel group.
The notice of termination, dated February 7, was addressed to CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and NDF panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili.
“We wish to announce that following the President’s pronouncement of the cancellation of the peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF and per his instructions, the GRP [government of the Republic of the Philippines]Panel served to the NDF today the Government’s notice of termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG),” Dureza said in a news briefing.
The JASIG, signed in 1995, gives participants in the peace talks immunity from arrest and surveillance.
“We assure our people that the government will continue its vigilance in the preservation of law and order and in protecting our people against insurgent activities and threats of terrorism, and pursue the enhancement of our democratic institutions,” Dureza said.
Call for peace
Meawnhile, leftist members of the Cabinet urged the President to reconsider his decision terminating peace talks with the communist rebels.
In a joint statement, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and National Anti-Poverty Commission head Liza Maza said the government should not waste the gains achieved in the negotiation table.
“As heads of national government agencies tasked to address poverty and improve the quality of like of the Filipino, we believe that the GRP should move the peace negotiations with the NDFP forward,” they said.
The secretaries said that they will “continue to engage within the Cabinet and the rest of the administration towards the resumption of the talks and strengthening the civilian voice in the peace process.”
“The current agenda on the table, the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), is the most substantive agenda in the negotiations and is key to lasting peace and long-term poverty eradication. We are one with the peace advocates, legislators, and individuals who urge both parties to resume the talks,” they said.
“Let each side come to terms with the compelling reasons why we have to come to the negotiating table in the first place. For it is the welfare of the Filipinos, in their millions, that is at the core of the peace negotiations,” the secretaries added.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE