NDFP lawyer slams GRP Solgen’s threat to re-arrest peace consultants

NDFP legal counsel Atty. Edre Olalia during the third round of formal talks in Rome, January 2017 (Photo: Kodao/Jon Bustamante)

A lawyer for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel said moves to cancel bail bonds of the peace consultants violates the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

In a legal opinion, Atty. Edre Olalia said Solicitor General Jose Calida’s move to have NDFP 18 peace consultants rearrested is premature, adding there is no written formal notice of termination yet of the formal peace process.

“It is premature and precipitate. There is yet no written formal notice of termination properly addressed to the NDFP as mandatorily required by the JASIG which is a solemn bilateral agreement that protects negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel of both Parties involved in the peace negotiations,” Olalia said.

Olalia’s opinion was a reaction to Calida’s July 20 announcement his office will file a motion in court seeking to “cancel all bail bonds of NDFP consultants, order their arrest, and recommit them to their detention facilities.”
“They can now be arrested and recommitted to their respective detention facilities,” Calida added.

Olalia said there is no clear indication up to date that the Department of Justice — the principal and lead arm of the GRP prosecuting the assailed cases against the NDFP consultants — is moving for such cancellation of the bail bonds much less joining or concurring in the OSG unilateral move.

“Moving for the re-arrest of peace consultants by invoking GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) legal and judicial system is a circumvention and even violation of a solemn binding bilateral agreement (JASIG) entered into by the GRP,” Olalia said.

The lawyer added such move shall tie the hands and pre-empts the flexibility of President Rodrigo Duterte in negotiating with the NDFP.

Olalia said it is Duterte’s prerogative to eventually and ultimately resume talks or peace negotiations, notwithstanding his previous threat to formally terminate the talks.

The lawyer hopes sobriety shall prevail, “in order to save the peace process and go back to the reasons why it must be pursued despite periodic challenges along the way.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)