Karapatan dares Mar Roxas to initiate withdrawal of DILG-DND reward system; says it violates JASIG

concha araneta
(Maria Concepcion Araneta-Bocala/Photo from Aksyon Radio Iloilo)

Karapatan said the Department of National Defense (DND) and Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) “reward system-bounty list” weighs heavier than its joint agreement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on safety and immunity guarantees or the JASIG and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Reacting on the recent arrest of peace consultant Maria Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said, “The GPH and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would gladly violate JASIG and arrest NDFP peace consultants, earn from the reward money than push forward the long-stalled peace talks with the NDFP. We challenge the DILG Secretary, whether its Mar Roxas or his replacement, to withdraw the Order on Reward System targeting so-called communists but has proven to have victimized innocent civilians.”

“By arresting peace consultants of the NDFP, the government already bagged at least Php 55 million. These funds would have been more useful when channeled to social services since these are taxpayers’ money. The reward system further breeds corruption in the bureaucracy,” Palabay said.

Araneta-Bocala, or Concha, with Php 7.8 million bounty on her head, was arrested early morning of August 1, 2015, by joint forces of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Unit Region 6 and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at a house in Juntado Subdivision, Molo, Iloilo City. Araneta-Bocala is peace consultant of NDFP for the Visayas region. She was issued Document of Identification No. ND978245 under assumed name “Remi Estrella”. Under the JASIG, persons with Document of Identification should be immune from arrests and detention in order to perform their duties as peace consultants.

The DND-DILG reward system is contained in the DND-DILG JOR Number 14-2012. “But it was amended in 2012 through the JO ORDER ON REWARD NUMBER 14(A)-2012 in recognition of the peace negotiations with the NDFP. The order stated, ‘Pursuant to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantess (JASIG) dated 24 February 1995 and the current GPH list of JASIG-covered personalities, the following names are to be deleted from DND-DILG JOR Number 14-2012 in recognition of the pending peace negotiations and conditions upon the existence of the said peace negotiations.’ Some of the deleted names with corresponding reward money were Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, Rafael Baylosis, Vicente Ladlad, Reynaldo Bocala and Jose Maria Sison.

“However, Austria is still detained with husband Benito Tiamzon while Ladlad and Baylosis still face trumped-up murder charges initiated during the Arroyo regime, supposedly Aquino’s nemesis,” Palabay added.

Another NDFP consultant was arrested on July 20 in Quezon City. Ernesto Lorenzo is falsely charged with destructive arson. Lorenzo and his wife Joyce Latayan is now detained at the CIDG holding area in Camp Crame Quezon City. “Lorenzo and Lantayan complained that they are only given food after the CIDG members have eaten and there are left over food,” Palabay said.

OPAPP, saboteur of the peace process

Karapatan strongly criticized the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process for its “consistent role in sabotaging the GPH-NDFP process through its statements and moves that consider previously signed agreements such as the JASIG inoperative.” The OPAPP released a statement yesterday on Araneta-Bocala’s arrest.

Palabay cited an acknowledgement letter issued by the GPH Peace Panel citing “Remi Estrella,” Araneta-Bocala’s assumed name, as entitled to the safety and immunity guarantees under the JASIG, aside from the DI shown by Araneta-Bocala upon her arrest. “The OPAPP, through its Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles, also consistently justifies illegal arrests, disappearances and other rights violations,” Palabay added.

“We reiterate our call to immediately release the NDFP peace consultants and resume the peace talks. We also call on the GPH to stop spending huge amount of people’s money in self-serving and unproductive activities. ###