Military awaits guidance on arrest of NDF consultants

By Lilian Mellejor

November 24, 2017, 9:11 pm

DAVAO CITY—The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) will wait for guidance from the higher headquarters in dealing with the consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) who were temporarily released from detention to take part in the peace negotiations.

“We are just waiting for guidance from the higher headquarters,” Eastmincom commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said when asked by reporters during the Hermes Club at Waterfront Hotel on the arrest of consultants.

Madrigal said the military is also waiting for the formal proclamation of the CPP-NPA-NDF as a terrorist organization, although he added that the activities of the NPA rebels such as extortion, burning of equipment and destroying agricultural plantations are tantamount to "terroristic activities."

He noted that the military is just an instrument of national power and matters on peace negotiations are decided by the political leaders.

The Philippine National Police also has the primary responsibility to arrest criminal elements, the military official added.

In an interview with Radyo Pilipinas in Davao, the government's peace panel chairman, Secretary Silvestre Bello III, said NDF consultants who were granted provisional liberty may voluntarily submit themselves to the authorities.

Bello said NDF consultants granted temporary liberty number about 40, though some of them have been granted pardon by the President.

Under the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), the protection and immunities are revoked 30 days after receipt of the formal notice on the termination of the peace negotiations.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte formally terminated the peace negotiations and all other meetings between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF through the issuance of Proclamation No. 360.

Early this year, the President cancelled the GRP-NDF peace talks after the NPA terminated the unilateral ceasefire in February.

In a press statement, the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) voiced concerns over the cancellation of the talks as there are already advances achieved in forging agreements on urgently needed socio-economic reforms to alleviate mass poverty and resolve the roots of the armed conflict.

In his Proclamation, Duterte explained that the administration agreed to speed up the signing and implementation of the final peace agreement with the communist movement but that the latter failed to show "sincerity and commitment."

"In spite of the best efforts exerted by this Administration, the NDF-CPP-NPA failed to show its sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as it engaged on acts of violence and hostilities, endangering the lives and properties of innocent people," the President said. (PNA)