On Justice Guarina’s “Economic Nationalism: Voices from the Past”

The very well-written article “Economic Nationalism: Voices from the Past” (Commentary, Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 24, 2014) was for me quite refreshing, considering that it was surprisingly written by a former high court official, retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Mario Guarina III.

The article itself is a rarity at this time of the profligacy and dominance of neoliberalism in policy, word and rule in the country.

Justice Guarina’s commentary was a very welcome respite in the face of current mantras of neoliberalism and its mouthpieces in the state and private establishments, trying to make it appear that Asia’s long-standing economic laggard in the Philippines has now become the region’s star economic performer.

Actually, the Philippines has been turning out to be, more and more, one of the region’s worst socio-economic performers, as it now has one of the lowest industrial – and even agricultural – capability, activity and development in the region. It also has one of the largest and most deploring rate of unemployment and poverty in the region.

All this, as a result of several decades of world imperialist-imposed neoliberal economic dominance, policies and programs, that have drastically crippled the country’s industrial and overall socio-economic development and have grossly impoverished the mass of the Filipino people.

More than half a century ago, the voices of a great many advocates of national independence, economic nationalism, industrial development and social progress – notably among them, Claro M. Recto and Lorenzo Tañada – were able to openly wield wide influence in the country and promote policies and programs for these causes.

During the time the “Filipino First” policy was officially adopted and being implemented in the country in an effort to promote national industrialization and socio-economic development, local industries then developed and proliferated in the country, as Justice Guarina recalled: “in a manner unprecedented in our history”, such that “we became the fastest growing Asian economy next only to Japan.”

But imperialist attacks against and dismantling of such, and the local neocolonial puppets’ overly submissive compliance to imperialist attacks, started to take place since the U.S. imperialist-imposed “decontrol” policy of the Diosdado Macapagal regime. This was followed much later by even more comprehensive and more systemically destructive anti-nationalist and anti-national industrialization measures via the global imperialism-imposed neoliberal policies, all under very tight dictation and close supervision by the imperialist-controlled International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization, as well as by U.S. agencies.

Instead of becoming genuinely economically and industrially self-reliant, inclusive and developed, the Philippine economy has consequently become all the more dependent on foreign capital and foreign trade, non-inclusive and underdeveloped, with only external and actually false appearances of “progress”.

The Philippine economy has, in particular, falsely “developed” in recent decades as one of the world’s main cheap assemblers of electronic parts reexported to imperialist countries, providers of ancillary call center and other outsourced back-office business process operations, and suppliers of private household help and other cheap labor in imperialist and other more developed countries.

All these, not quite far from being looked down for being just “miners of gold and hewers of wood” for foreign masters for a long time since about a century ago, as we were overly dependent on traditional agricultural, mining and other raw material exports for survival, amidst rapid and solid industrial and socio-economic development in other countries not as submissive to the imperialist powers.

All these, not far from the Philippine economy now more and more just specializing on catering to the ancillary needs of imperialists and other more developed countries, and the people in the country becoming more and more dependent on such.

Bulk of the country’s income from such has mostly gone to consumption and the development of commerce, services and the related proliferation of commercial buildings and upscale condominiums, while industry and agriculture have fallen and continue to fall way behind.

Justice Guarina’s commentary quite competently touched on problems since the past – and actually up to the present – but did not yet proceed on what necessarily should be done to decisively solve such problems.

In regard to what is to be done, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and allied people’s revolutionary organizations in the country have long since submitted and continue to submit, not only direct to the people but also to the local reigning government (the Government of the Republic of the Philippines or GRP/GPH), the NDFP’s agenda for comprehensive and substantive solutions to the fundamental problems of the country and people. Among such has been the NDFP’s long since proposed Comprehensive Agenda for Socio-Economic Reforms or CASER.

As far back as February 2011, the NDFP and the GRP/GPH were supposed to immediately discuss the CASER in the resumption of their long-stalled peace talks.

But, just a few hours before the resumption of the peace talks, combined military and police forces of the GRP/GPH, with the direct go-signal of their higher ups, treacherously arrested and hauled into jail a long-standing peace consultant of the NDFP and also a regular member of the NDFP’s Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms. This, despite his and fellow peace consultants’ supposed protection from surveillance, arrest, detention, torture and other antagonistic acts that would deter their participation and work related to the peace process. This, actually, in vile effort to tie the hands of those sitting opposite to the GRP/GPH across the negotiation table.

The NDFP peace panel demanded from the GRP/GPH the immediate release of all detained peace consultants, including the then latest one arrested and jailed. The failure – actually, the refusal – of the GRP/GPH to do so resulted in the long stalling once again of the peace talks, including that on socio-economic reforms.

The NDFP continues, in principle and in practice, to press for the resumption of the formal peace talks to be able to comprehensively and substantively discuss with the GRP/GPH, and seek to resolve fundamental socio-economic and political-constitutional problems of the country and people, in the effort to achieve a just and lasting peace. The NDFP always remains open to meetings with the GRP/GPH, for as long as the latter reciprocally remains open and opportunities for serious talks and efforts to resolve standing issues and problems of the people and the country remain available.

In the meantime, the NDFP has kept on pressing the GRP/GPH for the soonest resumption of the long-stalled formal peace talks and, in particular, the start of the talks on CASER. The NDFP will continue to press on such with the outgoing present GRP/GPH regime or, if such is no longer feasible, with a successor regime seriously interested enough in the peace process and open to fundamental changes.

The NDFP is presently hopeful of the possibility of the current GRP/GPH regime’s opening up to the resumption of peace talks with the NDPF in the near future.

If the NDFP-GRP/GPH talks on CASER do pull through and turn out to be successful, then there may be a good opportunity to push for the revival – and actual advance – of real economic nationalism, national industrialization, and other socio-economic reforms that the NDFP sees eye-to-eye with Recto, Tañada, Guarina and other principled and determined advocates of these socio-economic causes in the interest of our country and people, who have already suffered too long from imperialist greed, exploitation and intentional suppression of our development as a country and people.

Alan Jazmines
NDFP peace consultant and
member of the NDFP Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms,
presently detained at the Special Intensive Care Area Jail
Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City

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Even a lot worse this time inside Bicutan

Chelo Banal-Formoso’s September 25 Philippine Daily Inquirer article “Inside Bicutan in Time of Worse than Cholera” touched familiar cords in my memories of the time I was among the political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa during the Marcos martial law regime.

I was then twice confined here at Camp Bagong Diwa during that period – the first time sometime before her October 1978 visit to the detention center and the second time from 1982 up to the release of all political prisoners and the closing down of the detention center for political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa right after the February 1986 EDSA People Power.

About 30 years ago, the Marcos martial law regime was claiming to have supposedly already “normalized” the country’s situation, that accordingly necessitated the imposition of martial law in September 1972. In actual fact, the Marcos martial law regime was then still persisting with its fascist dictatorship.

The Marcos fascist dictatorship kept prating then that “there are no longer political prisoners in the country.” In actual fact, however, human rights organizations had then documented, with exact body count, the existence of some 750 political prisoners throughout the country.

About 75 of those 750 political prisoners were then confined at Camp Bagong Diwa. I was then among those 75.

Now, the Benigno S. Aquino III regime also keeps prating exactly the very same Marcos line that “there are no longer political prisoners in the country.” But, in actual fact, human rights organizations have been documenting the actual existence at present of about the same number (750) of political prisoners throughout the country.

One big difference now is that there are now some 450 of us, political prisoners,here in the same Camp Bagong Diwa, five times more than our number during the Marcos martial law regime.

Of these 450 political prisoners presently confined at Camp Bagong Diwa, are some 30 directly or indirectly related to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) – including five of us, NDFP peace consultants – who have been arrested, tortured, swamped with trumped-up criminalized charges, and who continue to be detained, heavily repressed, restricted and deprived. All these, despite standing agreements with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) for our protection from surveillance, arrest, torture, detention, trumped-up prosecution and other repressive acts that would deter our effective participation and work in the peace process.

There are also some 50 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) officers and forces, who have long been detained here (many of them for about or even more than a decade already), also on the basis of trumped-up criminalized charges. This, despite a peace agreement (the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro) already signed by the GPH and MILF about six months ago, and the recent submission of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law for legislative approval.

And also brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in November last year, were about 260 additional Moro detainees arrested where the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)-led stand-off in Zamboanga City took place in September last year. Many of them are, however, only innocent civilians, including a number of minors (below 18 years of age) and elderlies (past 70 years of age).

There are, furthermore, about 100 other Moro political prisoners – mostly innocent community folk arrested en masse in “all out war” operations launched against “terrorists” – to justify the collection of tens of millions of dollars of bounty claims from the U.S. Anti-Terrorist Aid.

And there are also a handful of U.S. rendition victims from another country (Indonesia), who have been transferred from previous imprisonment in a foreign country (Malaysia), forcibly (drugged, blindfolded and straightjacketted) smuggled into the country by Philippine police intelligence forces under the direction and supervision of the U.S. FBI. They were assigned fake Filipino identities, charged as Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists, swamped with “terrorism” charges filed against the fake identities assigned to them, and have been kept in Philippine imprisonment – Guantanamo style – for about a decade now. In June 2012, I was surreptitiously transferred here from Camp Crame detention because of my expose of all this and the constant intensive U.S. FBI intrusions into the cases of political prisoners there, especially the Moros.

The swamping of numerous trumped-up charges, given the very, very slow crawl of justice in the country’s courts, have been resulting in the intended practically indefinite detention of these political prisoners here in Camp Bagong Diwa and elsewhere in the country.

The fact that all political prisoners brought here to Camp Bagong Diwa are considered “high risk”, and thus specifically confined to “special intensive care” or “maximum security” jails here under extremely heavy restrictions, has made our quest for justice and freedom, and our very situation under detention all the more difficult.

There are furthermore the related difficulties, and many times the intentional failures, in bringing us to courts in our far-away localities, resulting in the further slowing down of our court cases; the problems even in the visits of our relatives and supporters from our far-away localities; and the excessively tight restrictions imposed upon us and our movements within our very cramp jails.

There are also the very, very stingy and very, very poor food rations that, in reality, amounts, at the most, to only 20% of our measly P50/day per inmate nominal food budget – the lowest, compared to that of jails in all cities in Metro Manila and other cities in the country, where the nominal food budget ranges from P80/day to P100/day per inmate.

And there are the fascist attacks time and again ordered by the top national leadership of the jail management, and viciously implemented by their “greyhound” (search) operatives. The ultimate in absurdities take place during these “greyhound” operations. Confiscations, soiling and wastage of our food, medicines, beddings, clothings and other personal belongings, and even outright thieveries take place right and left. They justify all these by insisting that what they have been confiscating are all “contrabands”. Such include transistor radios, ballpens, paper clips, blunt scissors, artwork and handicraft materials and products, sewing needles, shaving razors, small shaving mirrors, toothbrushes with long handles, nailcutters, belts, rice cookers, cooking stoves, lighters, branded vitamins, and even money. Practically all these have been essential necessities for our humane existence and daily needs as inmates.

What makes their confiscations and their justifications of the confiscations all the more absurd is that most of those items confiscated were brought in with the official permission of the local jail authorities. Many of these were actually bought from the local jail personnel’s cooperative store.

We, NDFP peace consultants and political prisoners, led in making complaints against the absurd and cruel confiscations and many other human rights violations committed by the “greyhound” operatives of the national jail authorities. In reprisal the latter ordered the confiscation of the typewriter that we used to type our complaints. The national director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) all the more absurdly tried to justify the confiscation of the typewriter, claiming that typewriters are also considered as “contrabands”.

In very stark contrast, in the more than seven years I was detained here at Camp Bagong Diwa, during the Marcos martial law regime, there were no issues at all here about the categorization of any of the belongings of political prisoners as “contrabands”. Unlike now, we were then, without any question and controversy, allowed radios, typewriters, all writing/artwork/handicraft equipment and materials, all cooking equipment and tools, all tools and materials for personal hygiene, and many others that national jail authorities and their “greyhound” operatives now one-track-mindedly, absurdly and in even more fascist mindset and manner keep categorizing and confiscating as “contrabands”.

Very ironically, as political prisoners here at Camp Bagong Diwa during the period of out-and-out fascist dictatorship, we then actually never went through such absurd and fascist “greyhound” operations and confiscations that the present national jail management and forces have every now and then been wielding against us and have been justifying, contrary to our political and human rights, and contrary even to ordinary sensibility.

To make us feel “at home” as “guests of the state”, the buildings we were confined in here during the Marcos martial law regime had no cells and iron bars, but only individual rooms made of wood, that were locked from inside. The main gate of the buildings we were confined in would, however, be locked from the outside only late in the night.

We were then also given more “freedom” within our jail area. We were allowed whole daytime access to wide grounds, where on our own we could have sunning, engage in sports, exercise, and other activities, and also tend to vegetable gardens and raise poultry within a wide-open five-hectare space around our jail buildings. Very much unlike now, when we are not at all given access to grounds outside our very cramp jail buildings, and are instead confined most of the time to a tight, narrow two-by-forty meters corridor of one wing of one floor of the jail buildings, where there are a series of control gates, that are padlocked practically the whole day. Only occasionally, at present, are we allowed access to the rooftop for sunning and exercise, and for only very limited schedules.

We were allocated entire floors of buildings for kitchen work, mess halls, television rooms, a library (with a free daily supply of fresh newspapers), and a couple of production areas (with machines and tools, like cutters, grinders and hammers, to make handicrafts and art work, and even shoe repairs, and the like). Given the mentality of the national leadership of today’s jail authorities, practically all of these would not be given way to.

We used to run our own cooperative store, where goods were sold without any markup at all. Unlike now, where the local jail personnel own and run their exclusive cooperative store, and charge us at more than double the market prices of goods.

So that we could ourselves determine what to make for our meals and control our own food budget and purchases, we were then given, in cash, a daily food budget of P12 per detainee, the present equivalent of which is more than P250 – more than five times our present already very stingy nominal daily food budget of P50, or more than 25 times the real worth of our present even more stingy actual daily food rations.

No different at all from the others, the present post-martial law government has only been putting on a democratic fascade, and in reality continues to hold a big and growing number of political prisoners – despite its repeated denials – and treats us all with persistent fascist mindsets, policies and rules, that, in terms of our experiences as political prisoners here at Camp Bagong Diwa, have ironically been even worse than during the “normalization” period of the Marcos martial law regime.

All these only reflect how fascism have in essence and in practice continued to rule over the county under pseudo-democratic regimes that have taken over after the fall of the relatively more openly fascist Marcos regime. All these only reveal that true democracy and real freedom still need to be fought for all out, in the interest of the entire oppressed people in the country.

Alan Jazmines
NDFP peace consultant
and political prisoner,
Special Intensive Care Area 1 Jail,
Camp Bagong Diwa

Militant and Hearty Greetings to Ka Joema on his 75th Birthday and 55 Years of Service!

I and other National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants, and other political prisoners here at the Camp Bagong Diwa, join many others in militantly and heartily greeting Comrade Jose Maria “Joema” Sison on his 75th birthday this February 8, and most especially his 55 years of service to the people and the revolutionary movement.

For more than five decades now and running, he has contributed so much of value to the socio-economic, cultural, political and ideological education and struggle this far, not only of the revolutionary forces and people in this country, but also in the world.

His contributions have been and continue to be of great lead and help to a multitude of progressive and revolutionary forces.

They have,in particular, been of great lead and help to me and continue to do so.

In mid-1971, disgusted at finding out after a year of working with its management team, that the only company I had aspired to work for was supposed to serve as the country’s forerunner of national industrialization but had no true intent and no real basis for such, and that the ruling state and system all the more had no real interest in national industrialization, I decided to no longer work for the exploiters, and instead to give my everything, including my full-time to what would really serve for the upliftment of the lives and progress of the people.

I resigned and immediately turned to full- time, intensive research and social investigation by reading written works and interviewing people to rethink and determine where I should devote the whole of myself for the rest of my life.

I immediately concentrated on studying radical revolutionary writings on society in the Philippines and the world, including proposed solutions to the socio-economic-cultural-political problems of the people.

Among the writings I concentrated on and found most accurate and incisive in reflecting reality in the depiction of the country and people, and most insightful and profound in proposing solutions to the deep and long-standing problems of the people and society were Ka Joema’s Struggle for National Democracy and (under the pseudonym of “Amado Guerrero”) Philippine Society and Revolution, as well as the Communist Manifesto and various classical works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao Zedong, plus John Eaton’s Political Economy.

I particularly closely concentrated on Ka Joema’s works as I found them most immediately useful for the present situation and struggle of the Filipino people, while at the same time I also devoted much time on the voluminous classical writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and others who made profound analyses of the situation in their respective countries and in the world.

After attending various fora, study circles and going around, interviewing people who had something to do with various social movements in the country (including, activists and rallyists), I was fully convinced that the movement for national democracy is presently the most apt, given the present semicolonial and semifeudal conditions of Philippine society and the present stage of the socio-economic-cultural-political revolution that needs to be completed in the country —as I learned from Ka Joema’s writings. I thus decided to give my time and the full of my life to the present national democratic revolutionary struggle and its revolutionary socialist perspective.

It did not take long before I personally met Ka Joema. There were later times when Ka Joema and I would meet to talk about particular tasks I was then participating in.

I was, however, arrested (for the first time) in early 1974 and released after three years — after the Amnesty International exposed the crimes of torture committed by the Marcos martial law regime against us political prisoners, and we also wrote about and filed legal complaints about those crimes of torture.

By then, Ka Joema had been arrested (in November 1977) in La Union. He underwent brutalities and, throughout his martial law detention, was kept in an isolation cell in Fort Bonifacio and intensively subjected to cruel restrictions. He had to climb the walls of his isolation cell just to be able to talk with other political detainees also kept in neighboring isolation cells to the left and to the right of his own.

More importantly, even under very restrictive conditions of detention, Ka Joema — with the help and partnership of his wife, Ka Juliet, as his note-taker and co-author, continued to put out sharp ideological and political revolutionary writings, that have continued to be of great value and help to the national democratic revolutionary movement and the proletarian revolutionary party in its lead. Most incisive were his criticisms of some confused socio-economic analyses (including the exaggerated estimate of the level of urbanization and industrial development already reached in the country, as against the continuing and even worsening pre-industrial and semifeudal socio-economic state of the country) and, more importantly, his criticisms of some revisionist errors in revolutionary tactics prevailing then, including the premature “Strategic Counter-Offensive” and “Regularization of the New People’s Army”, given that the people’s war was then still at the early sub-stage of the strategic defensive. After his release from prison and initial peace talks were held between the NDFP and the Cory Aquino government, he criticized the NDFP’s handling then of the peace talks and wrote about how it should instead be handled. What he wrote about has been how it has been handled ever since he took over as the NDFP peace panel’s Chief Political Consultant.

The determined pursuit of the rectification campaign throughout the national democratic movement, actual realities and later developments and progress have been proving the correctness of the criticisms initiated by Ka Joema.

Soon after we were released from martial law imprisonment, together with some other leading ex-political prisoners, we held occasional meetings at Ka Joema’s residence in an apartment in La Loma, Quezon City.

In our several meetings there, one of those we agreed upon and worked on was the formation of the Partido ng Bayan (PnB), a precursor of the Makabayan Coalition and its progressive party-list organizations.

Ka Joema was the Chairperson of the PnB Preparatory Committee, but had earlier been committed to and had to leave for a long series of engagements abroad. Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia,Chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, was then elected and took over to become the Founding Chairperson. I was then the Secretary-General.

PnB was fast organized nationwide and won some congressional and local seats in the ensuing elections. But all along and afterwards, it terribly suffered extra-judicial killings and other grave human rights violations, including the killing of Ka Lando and the killing and attempted killing of a big number of other PnB leaders, personnel and supporters.

The lives and security of other PnB leaders, personnel and supporters continued to be endangered, and even shifting mobile offices and quarters could no longer be safely maintained.

I had little choice but to go underground, often living with and kept secure by the worker and peasant masses.

In Ka Joema’s case, he was obliged to stay in exile abroad. But the reactionary state and successive reactionary regimes would not let him stay in peace even outside the country. His life and security remained constantly under threat.

The reactionary state has also delved into coming out with numerous concoctions of several criminal charges against Ka Joema. The Arroyo regime’s Inter-Agency Legal Action Group was specifically busy day-in and day-out manufacturing trumped-up criminal charges against Ka Joema and other leaders of the national democratic movement.

With the connivance between U.S. imperialism and successive kowtowing regimes in his home country, Ka Joema has been placed and continues to be maintained in the list of “terrorists” and thus made vulnerable to arrests and harassments.

In late August 2007, the U.S. and its puppet Arroyo regime went to the extent of conniving to make the Dutch police arrest and place him in solitary confinement. Ka Joema’s and the NDFP leadership’s and peace panel’s papers, computer disks and files were confiscated. As the Dutch court found no sufficient basis for his imprisonment, he was released after 16 days, and the files were also returned but important files were damaged.

Even in exile and subjected to threats and harassments, however, Ka Joema remains undeterred from continuing with his work and contributions to the people’s struggles and revolutionary movement in his home country and in the world. His comprehensive grasp of and insights into local and world situation and sharpness in thusly defining revolutionary strategy and tactics have not at all dulled but have even become more advanced and developed with age, the protracted struggle and rich summed-up experiences and revolutionary practice.

Aside from his continuing ideological and political leadership in the revolutionary movement in the homefront and his being chief political consultant of the NDFP and its peace panel, Ka Joema presently chairs the International League of People’s Struggles, an international organization with the objective of promoting peoples struggles and progressive organizations throughout the world.

He has also been very keen on the need to help strengthen fraternal relations among revolutionary parties and to help develop the international communist movement.

All these continuing efforts and work of Ka Joema are evident that prison and exile—itself an extension of prison—are still not enough to shackle revolutionaries like Ka Joema.

His efforts,keenness, work and achievements continue to guide and inspire us, political prisoners. with revolutionary and pro-people aspirations, and a great many more in the revolutionary movement outside of prison.

Recent arrest of another NDFP Peace Consultant, in further spite of the peace process

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and various local and international organizations pushing for the peace process have intently been pressing on with their efforts towards genuine, lasting peace through the attainment of mutual agreements, fundamental socio-economic and political-constitutional changes, and serious end to hostilities.

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) – – in particular, as of late on the part of the present Aquino regime – – has, on the contrary, treacherously been continuing with its belittling and grave disregard of (to the extent of intently trampling upon) agreements already made from the onset and through the course of the NDFP-GPH peace talks.

This, even in the case of agreements quite crucial to the continuation and progress of the peace process, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The CARHRIHL is supposed to ensure the respect and protection on both sides in the ongoing civil strife in the country. The JASIG is supposed to ensure that peace consultants and staffs of both sides are protected from surveillance, arrest, detention, prosecution and other antagonistic acts that would violate their rights as well as deter their effective participation and work in the peace process.

Yet, the military, paramilitary, police and intelligence forces of the GPH have without let-up been surveilling, arresting, detaining, swamping with trumped-up criminal charges and violating the human, legal and other rights of NDFP peace consultants and other JASIG-protected NDFP forces the GPH forces can lay their hands on.

The latest NDFP peace consultant who has been subjected to such traitorous acts of the GPH forces has been Ma. Loida Magpatoc, an NDFP peace consultant representing the NDFP in Far South Mindanao.

Magpatoc is 52 years old, married and a “Lola” to five grandchildren.

Despite her being JASIG-protected, a P500,000.00 reward was put up by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for her capture.

In performance of her work as an NDFP peace consultant, Magpatoc had been immersing and consulting with the local community folk in the barangays of Far South Mindanao in regard to land, production and other socio-economic and political issues, when the 1002nd Brigade (1002ND Bde) of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (10th ID PA) got wind of her presence in Brgy. Zone III, Digos, Davao del Sur and came to arrest her as early as 4am last July 28.

The entire local community, however, immediately learned of the situation and came out en masse to protect her and block the 1002nd Bde. Magpatoc presented her JASIG Document of Information to the 1002nd Bde and claimed her protection from arrest. But the 1002nd Bde only confiscated her JASIG document, ignored her claim for protection from arrest, and insisted on proceeding to arrest her. The barangay folk, who were surrounding her, refused to let the 1002nd Bde forces take her, as the former were apprehensive that the latter would only commit foul deeds against her. Magpatoc and the barangay folk asked if there was a warrant for her arrest, but the 1002nd Bde forces were not able to present any.

The arrest was eventually made, however, when the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Davao del Sur came later in the day to take her, this time armed with warrant of arrest (based on trumped-up criminal charges of “robbery,” “damage to properties” and “double homicide”), and bring her to their Digos headquarters. From there, she was flown on August 4 to Metro Manila and brought for confinement at the Taguig City Jail Female Dormitory in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

After her arrest, the reward for Ma. Loida Magpatoc’s capture by the AFP, suddenly became P5.6 million.

Alan Jazmines
NDFP peace consultant
detained at the
Special intensive Care Area,
Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City
02 September 2013

On what can be done to help in the resumption and continuation of the peace talks between the NDF and the GPH

The NDF firmly affirms the principled basis, historical correctness and legitimacy in practice through the years of its revolutionary struggle for fundamental (political, socio-economic, cultural, and other) reforms in the interest of the mass of the people.  Consistently in pursuit of these, it has developed a significantly large, solid and growing revolutionary following and mass base.

Even if the revolutionary struggle has been protracted (since 1969, already the longest running in the world) and continues to be faced with tough challenges, the determination to advance towards victory and the liberation of the people from long-prevailing political and social ills is unwavering, no matter how formidable may be the resistance of the prevailing state and its forces and how difficult and much longer the struggle would take.

Conditions in the world and locally have, however, presently been becoming more and more favorable for the resurgence and advance of the people’s protest and democratic movements and of the more highly organized, more scientific and more forceful revolutionary movements.

The NDF and the revolutionary movement it leads, even then, remain very much open to peace talks, and in fact always prefer to try to gain the most or whatever can realistically be gained in peace negotiations with whatever ruling GPH regime that in attitude and actual deeds is seen by the NDF as open and interested enough at talking peace towards the possibility of agreeing on significant issues, basic frameworks, fundamental reforms, and up to the conclusion of the already long-prevailing civil strife in the country.

It has actually only been during the GPH regime of Fidel Ramos when there were significant and substantive agreements that were achieved, including The Hague Joint Declaration containing agreements on the framework of the peace talks and the need to come out sequentially, but not necessarily exclusively or only one at a time, with comprehensive agreements on four key substantive agenda (human rights; socio-economic reforms; political and constitutional reforms; truce, military reorganization and end of hostilities) toward a final agreement and settlement.

Further major agreements were later achieved to significantly back up the peace process, such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in 1995 and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998.  A number of NDF peace consultants and staffs who were arrested were released by virtue of the NDF’s assertion of and the GPH’s compliance with their JASIG protection.

In 2004, under the GPH regime of Gloria Arroyo, a number of agreements were also attained, including the affirmation of previous agreements (such as The Hague Declaration, JASIG and CARHRIHL).  There were also agreements reached on the common draft of the guidelines for the work of the Reciprocal Working Committees on the second substantive agenda (Socio-Economic Reforms, or SER) and the sub-committees for each of its major topics; a draft preamble of the envisioned Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER); a draft declaration of principles of the CASER; an agreement for the enhancement/acceleration of the process in this scope of work; and a further meeting to complete common tentative drafts on major sections of SER, including on Economic Sovereignty and National Patrimony, Agrarian Reform and Agricultural Development, and National Industrialization and Economic Development.

To further speed up the whole peace process, it was also agreed upon that simultaneously with the work on SER, preparatory work on the third substantive agenda (Political and Constitutional Reforms, or PCR) would already be started, even as the heart of the agenda on PCR would be initiated and completed as soon as the reciprocal work on SER is completed.

There was also an agreement for the GPH to review, monitor and evaluate the cases of political prisoners (about 300 of these, documented by KARAPATAN) and to immediately release those found to have been arrested, detained, charged, tried, or even convicted of what were made to appear as common crimes, contrary to the Hernandez Doctrine (which prohibits charging with common crimes those with supposed political offenses).

There was also a particular agreement for the GPH to release within 30 days 32 named political prisoners, consisting of women, minors, sick and elderly.

And a further agreement was made for the indemnification of the victims of human rights violations during the Marcos martial law regime.

A big, glaring problem, however, has been that most of these agreements were actually not implemented by the GPH regime of Gloria Arroyo, resulting in strong clashes between the NDF and the Arroyo regime.

Bulk of the 300 or so political prisoners were not released, and more kept on being arrested, detained, tortured and swamped with trumped-up criminal charges, including a number of JASIG-protected NDF peace consultants.

Worse, a number of these NDF peace consultants, including their staffs and families, were involuntarily disappeared and extra-judicially killed.

When the NDF demanded the GPH’s compliance with the JASIG, the CARHRIHL and other peace agreements and the latter’s rectification of its violations of these, in line with its all-out war against the revolutionary movement, the Arroyo regime even went the opposite way and indefinitely suspended the JASIG (even if the agreement provides only two choices – either to implement it or to altogether terminate it).

The Arroyo regime went further and connived with the Dutch police for the latter to arrest the NDF’s Chief Political and Peace Adviser, Jose Ma. Sison; to raid the offices and residences of NDF peace panel members, consultants and staffs in The Netherlands; and to confiscate the latter’s papers, computer disks and other files, including those related to the peace talks and other sensitive data.  The computer disks were corrupted/damaged when they were returned (one computer disk containing the encryption codes was, however, not returned) by the Dutch police.  The returned computer disks were then deposited in a safety deposit box in a Dutch bank for safe keeping.

When, four years later, the next GPH regime of Benigno S. Aquino III had agreed to the resumption of the long-stalled NDF-GPH peace talks, but did not want to just release JASIG-protected but still detained NDF peace consultants and was insisting that the JASIG files of the detained NDF peace consultants be verified direct from the JASIG files first before releasing them, there was a problem of verifying directly from the JASIG files in the corrupted/damaged computer disk returned to the NDF and stored in the bank.  The said computer disk was still attempted to be opened and deciphered by the NDF panel in the presence of the GPH panel and 3rd party peace facilitators, but the JASIG files could no longer be properly extracted, deciphered and read, as the computer disk containing them was already corrupted/damaged.

All protests by arrested and detained NDF peace consultants on the violation of the JASIG in their cases were totally ignored by the arresting forces and the prevailing GPH regimes since the Arroyo regime.  JASIG documents of information in the hands of arrested NDF peace consultants were also always confiscated from them upon arrest, and no longer showed up.

One of us, Alan Jazmines, was arrested just a few hours before the resumption in February 14, 2011 of the peace talks suspended during the Arroyo regime, and he protested his arrest as a violation of the JASIG and a slap at the face of the peace talks even as it was just to begin again.  But the protest was ignored.

Some more JASIG-protected NDF peace consultants were arrested even after the peace talks had resumed.  The GPH regime of Benigno S. Aquino III and its peace panel continued to just ignore the protests.

The Aquino regime deceptively terms the demand for the release of arrested and detained JASIG-protected NDF peace consultants as a “precondition” by the NDF.  But, in fact, it is an obligation – to correct a serious violation of a standing NDF-GPH agreement, in order for the peace talks to proceed.

So that the peace talks can be resumed fully, the NDF had suggested a practical solution to the problem of the loss of the JASIG files – a reconstitution of the JASIG files in cooperation by both the NDF and the GPH peace panels.  But the GPH has been rejecting the proposal.

The current Aquino region has also been totally ignoring the wider demand of the NDF for the release of all political prisoners (more than 400 of them now, with more than half of these arrested since the onset of the current Aquino regime).  Their release should rectify gross violations of justice, human rights and even the GPH’s own laws, especially as in practically all their cases, the Hernandez Doctrine has rampantly, intentionally and cruelly been violated.

While the continuing detention of NDF peace consultants has continued to be a major snag to the continuation of the NDF-GPH peace talks, especially in the holding of “regular track” peace talks (in accordance with The Hague Declaration and related agreement on the substantive agenda regarding fundamental reforms), the NDF peace panel has taken the initiative of flexibility proposing “special track” peace talks.

The NDF peace panel has initiated and the GPH has accepted the “special track” peace talks, initially without the prior release of all detained NDF peace consultants.  But for the “special track” peace talks to continue and progress, the GPH is still unqualifiedly obliged to immediately release all detained NDF peace consultants.  Otherwise, aside from continuing to violate the JASIG, CARHRIHL and other peace agreements, their continued detention will only continue to reveal bad faith on the side of the GPH, prevent the detained NDF peace consultants from performing their respective roles in the peace process, and will soon if not yet immediately cause the stalling once again of the peace talks.

The initial agenda of the “special track” peace talks may start with more urgent and more generalized formulations, even if with more easily stage-by-stage implementable portions of the new combined reform agenda, but will still have to cover the same whole range of agenda as the “regular track” peace talks, as had been agreed upon in The Hague Declaration, although no longer strictly according to the sequence and schedule specified in The Hague Declaration.  The proposed Committee on National Unity, Peace and Development to be jointly formed by the NDF and the GPH should be able to already adequately, even if stage-by-stage, implement major parts of the reform agenda outlined in The Hague Declaration, and supposed to be taken up subject-by-subject in the “regular track” peace talks.

All this, on the assumption that the current Aquino regime may be easier to negotiate peace with through the “special track” process.

In the supposed “special track” meeting in Amsterdam last February 25-26, and in the GPH’s communications and proposals even prior to this, it however made the big mistake of assuming too little of the NDF and angling only for an indefinite ceasefire and “henceforth peaceful means,” but without even any serious discussion – much less any agreement at all – on fundamental reform agenda that the NDF has laid, with all intent, seriousness and priority, across the negotiation table, and also without the GPH’s rectifying its recalcitrant violations of the JASIG, CARHRIHL and other standing peace agreements, and without even releasing just the detained NDF peace consultants, much less the other political prisoners.

While the GPH has practically killed the “special track”, and further refuses to go back to the “regular track” (declaring its anchor in The Hague Declaration as a source of “perpetual division” as it has all the time been showing the absence of intent and preparation to really discuss in depth and substance the fundamental issues that are at the root of the civil war and conflict between the NDF and the GPH; and chastising the “regular track” for the overly long – 27 years already and running – process but without admitting at all that the many long delays were due to the series of serious violations on the part of various GPH regimes, including the current.

The NDF has always been and remains intent on seriously pursuing peace talks – and even at giving it priority when realistically feasible – for the purpose of more immediately attaining fundamental reforms and hastening the end of the long-running civil strife, all in the interest of the mass of the people, their rights, their progress and their future.

The NDF has always been and remains open to whatever GPH regime is also open and interested enough in the process and its objectives.  If a current GPH regime has been or has become totally antagonistic and refuses to talk peace, the only choice left is to wait out a next regime that would be the opposite.

While the current regime has practically killed the “special track” while refusing to go back to the “regular track”, and has also been continuing with its violations of the JASIG, CARHRIHL and other peace agreements, including its obligation to immediately release NDF peace consultants who continue to be detained, the NDF has not totally given up the peace talks with the current regime.

The NDF also views positively the removal of late – and likely replacement with a much better and more open one – of the last GPH peace panel head, who had been the most hardline, insincere and arrogant in refusing to forge a meeting of will and minds with the NDF peace panel, to recognize the need to rectify the GPH’s violations and serious failures of its peace panel’s work, preparations and readiness to positively resolve problems and really talk peace with the NDF.

The NDF also awaits drastic decisive changes and improvements in the leadership, orientation and work of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) in order to make it more conducive and helpful, instead of remaining hostile to the peace process.

The NDF would very much like to obtain the help of various local and international organizations, groups and personalities with the potential of somehow being able to relink the broken bridge between the NDF and the GPH, including the present Aquino regime, and also suggest urgent improvements and rectifications in problematic areas of the peace process.  Such help may be obtained from the likes of the Norwegian Third Party Facilitators, Conciliation Resources, International Alert, Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, Philippine Peace Center, and others.

Some of the most problematic areas where they can help in strongly suggesting urgent improvements and rectifications concern: 1) The need to seriously reaffirm the JASIG – protection of presently detained NDF peace consultants and make way for their participation in the peace process; and 2) The need to seriously and fully make way for comprehensive and in-depth studies and discussions on fundamental reform agenda as laid out in The Hague Declaration, immediately, especially in the socio-economic-cultural and political-constitutional concerns, instead of putting the cart before the horse and prioritizing an indefinite ceasefire even as the roots of the armed conflict have not yet been adequately addressed and resolved.  After all the very purpose and objective of the peace talks is to address the roots of the civil strife and agree on fundamental reforms in the interest of the mass of the people and their future.

ALAN JAZMINES

EMETERIO ANTALAN

LEOPOLDO CALOZA

TIRSO  ALCANTARA

30 June 2013                                                                     

(NDF peace consultants detained at the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City)

 

Message of Solidarity to the Forum on Illegal Arrest, Detention and Torture

We, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants, and other political prisoners presently detained here at the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) in Camp BagongDiwa, Taguig City, and many more NDFP peace consultants and other political prisoners in other jails in the country, boldly and loudly send through the iron bars that seek to keep us in place and in silence, our warmest greetings of solidarity in our common struggle against unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, detention, torture, repression and other violations of human rights.

The jail we are presently confined in is called “Special Intensive Care Area”, as it specializes in the confinement of “high risk” prisoners, and requires the application of intensive security measures to the great detriment of the victims. Many of the “high risk” political prisoners now concentrated here at the SICA have been transferred from jails as far as regions in Mindanao, Southern Luzon and Central Luzon.

Aside from four of us NDFP peace consultants who have been brought here to the SICA, there are about 200 other political prisoners here at present.

Of these 200 or so, 24 are considered related to the NDFP and its New People’s Army, even if a number are in fact civilians (working in the open, legal arena; ordinary community folks; or victims of intentional “mistaken identity”). Most have earned the ire and fascist reaction of reactionary state authorities for espousing and fighting for political, socio-economic and cultural beliefs and causes critical of the rotten, backward and bankrupt semi-colonial and semi-feudal system, its fascist military police, intelligence and other state forces and their foreign masters.  Some were even just minors when arrested (one, now still a minor). Three civilians have filed Writ of Amparo cases against their abductors the very next day after they were arrested by drunken soldiers of the 74th Infantry Battalion in Southern Quezon. But nothing has so far happened to their Writ of Amparo case, and instead what are moving in court are belated trumped-up charges against the three innocent civilians.

 About a dozen are considered related to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), who remain under detention even as the peace talks between the MILF and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) have already come out with a Bangsamoro Framework Agreement and are supposedly now just in the process of working out details for the finalization of peace agreement.

 Practically all the rest of the 200 or so political prisoners here at SICA have just been ordinary community folks arrested, tortured to be made to admit crimes they did not commit, and applied various fascist atrocities, as they survived killings and massacres in all-out fascist military and police offensives, combined with arbitrary bounty huntings and snatchings of innocent victims in the U.S.-financed “anti-terrorist” war conducted in impunity in vast areas of the country, mostly in Moro Mindanao as well as in other places.

To justify the arrest and detention of hundreds of innocent victims and the collection of large bounties for the arrest and detention of ordinary civilians who are made to appear as “terrorists”, the arresting units have substituted fake names and aliases taken from those in “wanted” lists, in lieu of the real names and identities of those arrested, detained and charged in court.  It has been such that practically the majority of political prisoners here at the SICA, especially in the case of Moro/Muslim prisoners, have been arrested, detained, tortured and swamped with trumped-up criminal charges, not as their real persons but with the use of intentional “mistaken identities” and/or aliases of others.

It has even become ridiculously so, that there have been several pairs of Moro political prisoners here, who have been arrested, detained, charged and brought to court with the same assigned fake identities, as in the case of two who have been tagged as “Black Tungkang,” and several times been brought to the court chained to one another and asked to stand up together whenever the name “Black Tungkang” is called.

Among the innocent community folk unjustly, arbitrary and illegally arrested, tortured and detained as political prisoners have been a number of minors, elderlies and sickly.

Presently there are 13 political prisoners here at the SICA who were arrested, tortured and detained as minors (some as young as 14 years of age when arrested). One of these, who was only recently arrested is now still 17 years of age, while most of the rest are already in their late 20s, as they have been detained for about or more than a decade already.

Quite a number, at the same time, were arrested, tortured and detained even in their advanced and sickly conditions. Many of these have suffered further deterioration of their health, hypertensive strokes and heart attacks and other serious ailments, have been medically neglected, and a number have thus died in prison.

One such recent case has been that of IntongAmirol, a copra producer in Lumbang, Isabela City, Basilan.  Although a Muslim Imam, he also work as an assistant at the Claret Catholic School in Sumipsip, Basilan. He was arrested more than a decade ago and brought to the SICA as a certain “IntongAninol” of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group accordingly operating in the mountain areas of Basilan. He was more than 60 years old then. A large bounty was collected by the arresting forces as reward for his arrest. His hypertensive condition worsened during his long detention and he suffered a severe hypertensive stroke in 2011. He was not given competent medical attention and was never brought to a hospital. He was totally bedridden in his detention cell since his stroke. His cellmates had to assume the task of feeding him, washing him and helping him with his toilet functions – – all in bed. He died on Good Friday, April 25, 2013.

There are also a number of foreign political prisoners here (Indonesians, including three U.S. rendition victims surreptitiously transferred to the Philippines from Malaysia, where they were detained for a year for illegal entry as they were passing Malaysia on the way back to Indonesia in 2003. While they only participated in protests led by imprisoned Malaysian political oppositionists against prison repression and abuses there, the Malaysian authorities could not touch the imprisoned Malaysian oppositionists and instead blamed the three Indonesians for leading the protests. The Malaysian authorities then handed over the three to the U.S. FBI, which then passed them on to the Philippine National Police Intelligence Group (PNPIG) in June 2005 with instructions to bring the three for indefinite detention, Guantanamo-style, in the Philippines with the use of assigned Filipino identities and to be charged as “terrorists.”  The three were then beaten up and injected with drugs to render them unconscious, blindfolded, straightjacketed, disguised to look normal, loaded into a private plane, flown into the Philippines and detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame. They were hidden from public for two years, and only after then allowed to be able to get in touch with their families through the Indonesian embassy.  For more than seven years, together with other political prisoners they were subjected to pressures by the U.S. FBI at the secret U.S. FBI room right inside the Maximum Security Area of the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

The three U.S. rendition victims and the other Indonesian political prisoners at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame were later transferred one after another to the SICA, especially after the intrusion of the U.S. in the cases of political prisoners and the existence of U.S. rendition victims at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame were exposed through the mass media in late June last year.

Aside from having been victims of unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, detention, torture and trumped-up criminal charges, political prisoners here at the SICA and in other jails across the country have also become victims of the cruelest, slowest crawl of justice in the world.

In the cases of more than a hundred political prisoners here at the SICA – – mostly those who have been transferred here from Mindanao – – their court hearings have practically been at a standstill for about or even more than a decade, until these have started to move again only very recently at the strong instigation of human rights and progressive lawyers organizations. But, even then, at still very slow paces (at the rate of once every several months, and for a few minutes per hearing).

Furthermore, in practically all cases of those who have from time to time been transferred to the SICA from various jails in the provinces, as those political prisoners are accordingly “high risk” and therefore their court hearings and places of detention should no longer be continued in the provinces, but instead have to be transferred to Taguig City, where the SICA (as the main national detention center for “high risk” prisoners) is located, the transfers of their court hearing have resulted in even further delays in the already very cruelly slow crawl of justice. This is because Taguig City-based courts and prosecutors have to be acquainted first with the transferred cases and also have to obtain new legal counsels in Metro Manila (where Taguig City is), as their previous legal counsels are already too faraway from the new venue of the transferred cases. There have also been many problems where transfer of court venues have not followed the transfer of political prisoners. Among such problems are the many snags in bringing the prisoners to courts in distant provinces – – accordingly due to logistical, personnel and security issues.

An even more prior factor in the practically indefinite detention of “high risk” political prisoners is the swamping of as many trumped-up criminal charges against them as possible, so that their court hearings on too many cases would have to take several years.

In the meantime, political prisoners suffer hostile, including unhealthy, overly restrictive and repressive prison conditions, poor food rations, lack of necessary medical support, and quite often highly unequal treatment compared to the highly favored and special treatment prisoners in exchange for large bribes paid to highly corrupt prison authorities.

The families, loved ones, co-workers, supporters and beneficiaries of the work of political prisoners suffer a lot, as on the part of the political prisoners themselves, with their separation.  The sufferings become a lot more so with the distant, prolonged and virtually indefinite detention of political prisoners.

The much greater physical distance of political prisoners transferred to the SICA and other far-away detention centers for “high risk” political prisoners have further worsened the problems of both the transferred political prisoners and their families, loved ones and others who are much prevented from visiting them, or have to sacrifice a lot just to be able to visit.  This is especially so in the case of those who want to at least be able to visit the distantly-detained political prisoners, but encounter so many problems in cost, time, and other hassles caused by the distance.

And then there are also many problems caused by the overly tight security measures – – at time with accompanying hostility – – exerted by jail authorities and their guards in the process of scrutinizing visitors and the documents, food and other goods being brought by visitors to “high risk” political prisoners, even as the visitors of very rich nonpolitical prisoners who pay very well are always treated with total leniency and allowed to bring in anything.

 All these and other problems of political prisoners and many other human rights, political and socio-economic problems of the people have long been in the agenda and now and then specifically taken up in the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GPH. The NDFP-GPH peace talks have in fact already came out with a Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the first substantive agreement between the NDFP and the GPH signed on 16 March 1998 in the Hague, the Netherlands.

Particularly in regard to political prisoners, the NDFP and GPH peace panels had time and again even come out with  specific agreement for the ensurance of  respect of human rights and the review and evaluation of the cases of all political prisoners documented by KARAPATAN, for the immediate release by the GPH of “those found to have been arrested, detained, charged, tried or convicted of common crimes contrary to the political offense doctrine in the Amado V. Hernandez case (18 July 1956).”

 In  peace talk held in Oslo, Norway in April 2004 during the GPH regime of Gloria Arroyo, the NDFP and the GPH even came out with a specific list of 32 minors, sick, elderly and women political prisoners who were promised to immediately released by the GPH. A problem, though, is that some of these (including four minors and one sick and elderly) were never released by the Arroyo regime, nor up to now by the regime of Benigno S. Aquino III.

In truth, the Benigno S. Aquno III regime has been the worst (since the end of Martial Law) in adamantly refusing to release unjustly, arbitrarily and illegally held political prisoners, except for a mere handful who actually won court victories proving their innocence over the trumped-up criminal charges against them. KARAPATAN has time and again been coming out with updated lists and documentations of now more than 400 political prisoners – – more than half of whom have been arrested and detained under the regime of Benigno S. Aquinio III. The present regime has, however, been deaf to all these.

The Benigno S. Aquino III regime’s gross deafness in the face of numerous cases of injustice, arbitrariness and illegality in the arrest, detention and charging of political prisoners with trumped-up criminal cases, and in the face of widespread and loud demands for the urgent release of all political prisoners have resulted not only in the further indefinite and worsening sufferings of the political prisoners, their legitimate constituencies, their co-workers and their loved ones. It has also caused the peace talks between the NDFP and the GPH to again be indefinitely stalled.

This, especially as the NDFP has been correctly demanding, as a matter of principle, that the GPH stop grossly and adamantly violating standing peace agreements, and instead immediately release all political prisoners, including all detained-NDFP peace consultants and staffs in the peace process.

Particularly in the case of peace consultants and staffs in the NDFP-GPH peace process, an agreement (the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees or JASIG) was signed by the NDFP and the GPH on February 24, 1995 in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands. This agreement guarantees the immunity of peace consultants and staffs from surveillance, arrest, prosecution or any other sinister punitive actions especially as these may obstruct their involvement and work in the peace process.

 The GPH has, however, blatantly and arrogantly been violating this agreement. Up to now the Benigno S. Aquino III regime has stubbornly been refusing to rectify the GPH’s violation of the agreement and even goes to the foul extent of calling the NDFP’s demand for the immediate implementation of the agreement as making a “precondition” to the continuation of the NDFP-GPH peace talks. The NDFP has rightfully been clarifying that the implementation of the agreement, the rectification & violations to it, and thus the immediate release of all arrested and detained NDFP peace consultants and staffs involved in the peace process are, in fact, obligations of the GPH.

Still remaining under detention and continuing to be swamped with trumped-up criminal charges in violation of the JASIG and the CARHRIHL and other agreements are the four of us NDFP peace consultants here at the SICA (Alan Jazmines, TirsoAlcantara, EmiterioAntalan, and LeopoldoCaloza) and   nine more in jails (Ramon Patriarca, Eduardo Serrano, Eduardo Sarmiento, ReynanteGamara, Kennedy Bangibang, Pedro Codaste, Alfredo Mapano, and EdgadoFrigal). Jaime Soledad was previously released due to court victory, but was rearrested and is again detained.

 Aside from these, the GPH still has to account for the enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of other NDFP peace consultants namely Sotero Llamas, Leo Velasco, PrudencioCalubid, Rogelio Calubad and others, including their families and staffs.

 The continuing stubborn refusal of the GPH to implement the JASIG, CARHRIHL and other peace agreements reached with the NDFP, rectify its violations, immediately release the detained NDFP peace consultants and staff, account for the othermissing NDFP peace consultants and staffs, and also release soonest all other political prisoners have only been serving to adamantly block the continuation of the peace talks.

Behind the lack of interest of the Benigno S. Aquino III regime in continuing with the peace talks with the NDFP is its lack of preparedness – – actually, absence of interest – – in discussing in depth the remaining substantive agenda in the program of the NDFP-GPH peace talks, especially the next substantive agenda on socio-economic reforms. The ruling regime wants to immediately bar and throw away key issues in regard to socio-economic reforms – – national industrialization and agrarian reform, which the ruling regime calls “ideologically charged.” The ruling regime has also announced that it refuses to talk about its particular programs that the NDFP has been fundamentally critical of, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer and PAMANA dole-out programs and the OplanBayanihan counter-insurgency program.

 In the meantime, the sufferings of the people brought about by the worsening socio-economic malaise, gross human rights violations and other basic problems in the rotten, bankrupt, deteriorating semicolonial and semifeudal society that continues to prevail in the country, awaits decisive fundamental changes.

                                                                                                ALAN JAZMINES

                                                                                                NDFP peace consultant

                                                                                                detained at the SICA

                                                                                                Camp BagongDiwa, Taguig City