By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Aquino government officials harass NDFP JASIG-Protected Persons
Nearly a year after resumption of formal talks last February 2011, the Government of the Philippines (GPH, formerly GRP) continues to renege on its obligations under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). It now harasses some of the 17 JASIG-protected persons of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Last 25 January 2012, Ramon Patriarca, an NDFP-JASIG protected person, was transferred without notice to him and his counsel from regular police custody to military custody in Camp Lapu-Lapu, the base of the Visayas Central Command (CENCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
After attending a court hearing, Patriarca was not returned to the Danao City jail but was suddenly brought to an incommunicado facility in Camp Lapu-Lapu. The reasons given for his transfer were his reported incitement of his fellow inmates to rebellion and an alleged intelligence information of a possible rescue attempt by the New People’s Army (NPA).
It should be recalled that Patriarca was arrested by elements of the 78th Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) based in Camp Lapu-Lapu on 5 February 2009. There, he was held incommunicado for days and subjected to various forms of torture. He was transferred to a regular facility only after vigorous protests by him, his family, supporters and lawyers. His transfer to military custody is a retaliatory measure to silence him while under detention.
In protest of his surreptitious transfer, Patriarca has gone on hunger strike. He is reported to be guarded by a 12 man SWAT team in the incommunicado facility.
Patriarca is the second victim of harassment of NDFP-JASIG protected persons by the Government of the Philippines (GPH). Alan Jazmines, another NDFP Consultant and member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER), has repeatedly been threatened with forcible transfer from Camp Crame to Camp Bagong Diwa.
The NDFP stands firmly on its demand for the expeditious release of most, if not all, of the 17 JASIG-protected persons, including Patriarca and Jazmines. It strongly condemns the GPH efforts to subject said JASIG-protected persons to harassment for its vindictive ends.