NDF: no formal notice yet from GRP on termination of talks

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 05 February)  — The National Democratic Front (NDF)  has yet to receive a formal notice from the government peace panel on the termination of the peace negotiations, NDF peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili said in a statement issued Sunday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte announced he was “not ready to resume” the talks unless there is a “compelling reason” to do so.

Agcaoili said the mode of termination of the peace negotiations is defined under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with National Democratic Front (NDF) peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili and wife Chit, the Tiamzon couple Benito and Wilma for dinner at Bondi and Bourke Restaurant at Legaspi Suites, Davao City on December 2,2016. TOTO LOZANO/Presidential Photo

The JASIG, signed on February 24, 1995  is effective and binding upon the parties for the duration of the peace negotiations, unless terminated by written notice given by one party to the other. It is deemed terminated “30 days after receipt of the notice of termination.”

Agcaoili also clarified that the the 17 NDF consultants released from detention in August 2016 are in the Philippines “and are not in hiding.”

Duterte had said he would ask the NDF consultants temporarily released to participate in the peace negotiations, to return to jail and will have their activiteis monitored by the state’s intelligence agents. He also warned he would have their passports canceled and have the international police to arrest them.

Agcaoili  said those who participated in the third round of formal talks in Rome on January 19 to 25 returned to the country on January 31 and “are all protected from rearrest in accordance with the JASIG.”

“These consultants have been put under the effective jurisdiction of GRP courts because they were released only on bail and only for a six-month period. They have been required to secure court permission every time they went abroad to participate in the last three rounds of talks. Their bail renewal is due this month and, as reflected in the Rome Joint Statement of 25 January 2017, both their lawyers and the GRP have agreed to cooperate in this regard,” Agcaoili added.

Agcaoili also explained that Royal Norwegian Government, the Third Party Facilitator in the GRP-NDF peace talks “has been providing for the travel expenses and accommodation of the NDFP delegation in formal and informal peace talks since the beginning.”  (MindaNews)