The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has again deposited for safekeeping with a Third Party Depository its list of peace negotiators and consultants immune from arrest and surveillance, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) announced.
Through its website, the OPAPP said the NDFP list of Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)-protected consultants and staff was placed in a safety deposit box under the guardianship of the Third Party Depository, Archbishop Joris August Odilius Ludovicus Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church of The Netherlands.
GRP peace panel members Angela Librado-Trinidad and Hernani Braganza and Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Jamie Ledda were on hand during the event, the announcement said.
NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili confirmed two GRP panel members were present in the July 12 event.
The deposit is part of JASIG verification and process of validating the identities of persons using aliases in the list of JASIG-covered Document of Identification (DI) holders, the OPAPP announcement quoted Braganza.
“We have to be strict this time as we do not want a repeat of the July 2011 verification incident that almost resulted to the collapse of the peace negotiation,” he said.
In July 2011, a GRP-NDFP verification procedure failed to confirm the inclusion of an arrested rebel consultant in the original June 1996 list due to faulty decryption diskettes.
The NDFP panel said the decryption diskettes have been corrupted when Dutch authorities seized the diskettes and other materials during a raid at the NDFP International headquarters in August 2007.
The 2017 list, encrypted in Universal Serial Bus (USB) flash disks and backed up in a Security Drive (SD), contains photographs and the real identities of NDFP peace consultants who are still underground, the OPAPP said.
Also included in the list are rebel leaders who have already surfaced and are physically participating in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government (GRP) and the NDF, it added.
GRP panel chair Silvestre Bello issued Letters of Authority (LA) to the JASIG-covered rebel consultants they could present to police authorities and military in case they are held or arrested, the OPAPP said.
According to the JASIG, negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel who participate in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations are guaranteed free movement as well as “immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions due to any involvement and participation in the peace negotiations.”
The NDFP has formally filed complaints with the Rodrigo Duterte government on the repeated surveillance of its peace panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultant Wilma Austria in Metro Manila as well as alleged assassination threats against Mindanao-based consultants Alfredo Mapano and Porfirio Tuna.
GRP forces also arrested NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario in Davao City last February. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)