Herbert Bautista willing to help NDFP consultants

Quezon City Mayor Herbert M. Bautista is willing to take cognizance of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants who may be rearrested after a government official threatened to have their bail bonds cancelled.

In a statement released through the Quezon City Public Information Office, Bautista said he is willing to help in any way possible to advance the peace process, including acting as guarantor for the continued freedom of Leftist peace negotiators.

Bautista is GRP peace adviser on local government units and is a member of the government panel’s reciprocal working committee on social and economic reforms.

“If we would be asked and such assistance would be allowed by the courts, we don’t see why not,” Bautista said.

Solicitor General Jose Calida last July 20 threatened to initiate petitions to have courts cancel the bail bonds of at least 18 Leftist negotiators freed last August 2016 after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of formal talks.

Church leaders, civil society groups and political leaders in the past have taken cognizance of NDFP consultants and other political detainees for humanitarian reasons or to allow them to participate in peace negotiations with the government.

“I personally hope that our NDFP counterparts shall not be ordered rearrested because I wish that formal negotiations will soon resume,” Bautista’s statement said.

“But should it come to that (bail bond cancellation), I will assist in whatever way I can because achieving peace is everyone’s responsibility,” he added.

The NDFP for its part praised Bautista’s statement, saying it shows the local executive is supportive of the continuation of the formal peace negotiations.

“If true, it is nice.  It is good that someone is standing up for the continuation of the talks,” NDFP Negotiating Panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili told Kodao Productions.

“What he said is praiseworthy,” NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison for his part said.

Earlier, NDFP Legal Adviser Edre Olalia said Calida’s threat to have majority of NDFP 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 Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (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.

Duterte’s threats to serve notice to the NDFP of the termination of formal peace talks did not push through last week, giving hope it will be revived in the future.

“I hope 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,” Olalia said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)