GRP duty-bound to withdraw charges Vs political prisoners, says peasant group
The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today held a picket-protest at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) in Pasig City to demand the release of more than 400 political prisoners as part of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) compliance to previous commitment to release political prisoners, including JASIG-protected persons, the sick, elderly, women and long-term detainees for humanitarian reasons.
“Political prisoners have waited for so long for their freedom. Each day in jail is like a lifetime for them,” said KMP Secretary General Antonio Flores.
Reacting to statements of Silvestre Bello III, GRP Chief Negotiator in the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), that a final bilateral ceasefire agreement would be ready for signing by the end of the month or early December, the KMP said that “it appears that the GRP is more interested in a bilateral ceasefire instead of complying with previously signed agreements and addressing the root causes of the civil war.”
The KMP said that “compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) is needed for all political prisoners to be released and for JASIG-protected NDFP consultants not to become ‘virtual hostages’ to the peace negotiations.”
“Under the CARHRIHL,” Flores said, “the GRP is duty-bound to withdraw all fabricated cases against all political prisoners and recently released NDFP consultants.”
“There had been much delay with regard to the GRP’s compliance to the release of political prisoners. More than 400 political prisoners are still languishing in jails across the country, majority of them are farmers and land reform advocates who were incarcerated because of their political beliefs and struggle to achieve genuine land reform,” Flores said.
“We hope the GRP’s propaganda should be translated into actual release of political prisoners,” Flores said.
“We view the continued detention of political prisoners as an affront to the peace process that has gained ground after the second round of talks that discussed the framework of the agreement on Social and Economic Reforms,” the peasant leader said.
The KMP also reminded the GRP on the amnesty proclamation pertaining to currently detained political prisoners.
Based on the August 26, 2016 Joint Statement of the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, both Parties agreed that “the GRP Panel will immediately recommend to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte the issuance of an Amnesty Proclamation, subject to concurrence of Congress, for the release of prisoners who are listed by the NDFP and who have been arrested, imprisoned, charged, and/or convicted for alleged acts or omissions within the ambit of the Revised Penal Code or special laws in connection with alleged crimes in pursuit of one’s political beliefs.”#